CES: Will runners embrace Nike + SportWatch GPS?
Shoe giant Nike has had a remarkable run with the Nike + iPod product line – and they’ve upped the ante with the debut of the Nike + SportWatch GPS at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show here in Las Vegas.
Launched in 2006 in conjunction with its Nikeplus.com website, it was one of the first products to realize the potential of iPod peripherals, allowing runners to track pace, time and distance all while enjoying music on their iPod devices.
I was a little skeptical at first that it was a simple ploy to sell shoes. But over four years of using the product has resulted in a grand total of zero sales pitches from the company. “It’s all about tools and services to let runners become better runners,” assured a Nike representative.
Customers have responded. Nike + GPS, which allows runners to map their routes, is currently the #1 app in the Health & Fitness category on iTunes with 500,000 downloads. There are four million members worldwide, with 300 million miles logged and 100 million runs sync’d on the site. A social networking component also encourages members to connect via Twitter and Facebook, with a check-in feature that allows users to lay claim to particular routes and challenging others to better their times.
Nike + SportWatch GPS is a watch device that boasts time, pace, distance and calories burned features that runners have come to love, and adds a heart rate and GPS function to raise the bar. Furthermore, after completing their runs, users can take off the watch and connect their device to their computers with a hidden USB connection. Very clever.
The device has won two CES Innovation Awards in the Health and Wellness and Personal Electronics categories, which will make customers take notice when it goes on sale later this year in Canada.
It will be interesting to see if Nike can build on the success of the Nike + product series despite the absence of an iPod or iPhone component. Is it simply adding a new partner in TomTom, or is it abandoning its Apple alliance? Time will tell.
-- James Havers, at CES in Las Vegas