updated 04:50 pm EDT, Wed May 24, 2006
The partnership between Apple and Nike, which was announced yesterday, was originally conceived by Nike. Nike came up with the idea of an intelligent running shoe and asked Apple to develop the driving technology, according to a report from BusinessWeek. "A while back we asked a big question: Could we harness the power of digital technology to improve a runner's experience," said Nike CEO Mark Parker at a news conference. The answer appeared to be a smart running shoe rigged with a small sensor that could track motion, distance, and other information important to runners. The fact that the information would only be available after a run, however, became an apparent issue. "We quickly realized that making a smart shoe wasn't smart enough," Parker said.
Parker called on Apple CEO Steve Jobs, which eventually resulted in the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, which both companies dubbed a "great start." Both Apple and Nike will develop more products as part of an ongoing partnership in the coming months, according to the report.
Nike and Apple designers met for the first time 18 months ago, and the teams meshed well. "Both companies are technology-driven companies," Jobs said. "It's just that we work in completely different areas of technology. We are semiconductors and software, and Nike is anatomy and precision-molding and thin-film technologies. What's interesting is the people are very similar."
Nike+iPod could affect fitness industry
One columnist from ESPN commented on the possible aftermath of the new deal (subscription required).
"I'm an avid runner, and I know people will buy this," said columnist Darren Rovell. "Nike, whose stock went up more than 2 percent Tuesday, and Apple both will benefit from this alliance."
Rovell believes Gym chains such as Gold's and Crunch, as well as gym equipment manufacturers like Nautilus and Cybex will be hit the hardest by the new partnership.
"I'm not saying the meatheads will go away, and I know there are plenty of cold-weather places where you can't run outside during some months. But I know people who belong to gyms only because the treadmills and elliptical machines can tell them exactly what they are doing. If this system can do that, those people don't really need to spend time inside anymore."