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Inside the Apple-Nike partnership

updated 04:50 pm EDT, Wed May 24, 2006

Inside Nike+iPod

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."

by MacNN Staff





  1. kw99

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It seems like iPod

    is gearing up to become a device that "everyone" wears to perform many functions not directly related to music (or watching videos). If Apple creates and documents development guidelines, other companies can design self-powered wireless products that interact with iPod and provide feedback or record activity.

    How about a medical device that measures, displays, and stores blood pressure throughout the day, so that it can later be reviewed on a computer. Or some type of GPS device that displays on the iPod screen location information and provides audio directions.

    Sure, you could design separate standalone devices to do those specific things. But why not consolidate need for processing power (the iPod's CPU), sharp color LCD display, user input (click wheel), audio feedback, data storage, and data retrievable to PC by using what the user already carries around with them, an iPod. That would make the specific-function devices cheaper, lighter, and probably easier to develop.

    Then iPod would truly become a "platform," not just a music player device.

  1. tonvoon



    More than ipod

    This type of thing could have technically been achievable on WinCE or Palm or any other mobile computing device.

    The bigger picture is that Apple is casting itself as the great technology innovator.

  1. kw99

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The name "iPod"

    actually suggests a multipurpose device, not a music player. It would be interesting to note (in the future) if Apple intended to build iPod into a "wearable computer" platform (assuming that is the strategy) by first getting it on everyone's "body" as the most popular digital music player. It sounds like a strategy Steve Jobs might think up. The current generation of iPods may be the first to have these more general capabilities.

  1. Berbie

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Journalize your workouts

    If you are looking for something to plan and journalize your workouts on a Mac, take a look at TrailRunner:

    TrailRunner is a route planning application for people who enjoy running, biking, hiking or skiing, works with the Nike + Apple Sport Kit.

    You can find more information about TrailRunner on my website:

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