updated 09:15 pm EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Nike's exit from wearables market turns into gain for 'iWatch' project
Two former Nike Fuelband engineers have jumped ship to join Apple, presumably to lend further support to the company's expected "iWatch" health and fitness device, according to discoveries made on the pair's LinkedIn profiles. Both hardware engineer Ryan Bailey and sensor software expert Jon Gale started with Apple last month, just two months after Nike gutted its own Fuelband team and essentially exited the wearables market.
The news follows reports that Apple poached Swiss luxury watch executive Patrick Pruniaux away from TAG Heuer to help launch the new device, along with any other wearables, medical sensors and fitness experts and engineers. In April, Nike let go what it called a "small number" of its Digital Sport division employees, with reports as high as 70 members being let go and a forthcoming new version of the FuelBand fitness tracker being cancelled. Nike is continuing to support existing FuelBand users, but will reportedly focus on software and rely on others -- possibly including Apple -- as partners on hardware.
Others already on board the "iWatch" team at Apple include former Atlas Wearables software engineer Alex Hsieh, who was a key part of the team that developed the well-regarded Atlas fitness device - a device that offered so much accuracy that it could distinguish between different sorts of exercises (such as a push-up versus a sit-up). The company has also brought in fitness guru Jay Blahnik, who was part of the Nike Fuelband team in a consulting role.