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As consumers demand more from mobile health, Nike pours fuel on the fire
With everyone trying to uphold their New Year's resolutions -- or resuscitate them -- Nike took some time out on Thursday to announce a new tool to track the exercise and calories they are burning throughout the day.
The new Nike FuelBand is a wrist-band, similar to the Jawbone UP that was pulled from the market for faulty readings, and syncs your activity data to a PC or iPhone.
This new device brings a major sporting company even further into the health technology sphere -- with an even deeper partnership with Apple.
Last year, Nike created a geo-location based app for the iPhone that lets runners track their routes while listening to their workout tunes and now they are brining food and other activity tracking to the iPhone so that active people are able to track their progress.
"The NIKE+ FuelBand is a way for Nike to further evolve the exciting possibilities of merging the physical and digital worlds," said NIKE, Inc. President & CEO Mark Parker, in a statement. "Nike has always been about inspiring athletes, and the NIKE+ FuelBand will help motivate them in a simple, fun and intuitive way."
The band has been designed to be worn throughout the day and can measure various movement while depicting the person's progress with an assortment of LED lights on the band.
Users are able to set daily goals of how active they want to be that will signal to the band whether you are in the red or the green as far as progress.
World-class athlete Lance Armstrong was at the New York announcement this morning and added that this tool would be a great way to inspire people to meet daily and weekly goals.
The Nike+ Fuelband is now available for preorder starting in the US at Nikestore.com for a suggested retail price of $149.
The latest round of funding from several investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Deutsche Telekom and Yuri Milner brings the total funding for the company to $210 million -- roughly $160 million for this year alone.
Jawbone ran into some public relations and service issues in the last few weeks when users of its $99 UP wristband were reporting syncing, monitoring and use issues and the CEO, Hosain Rahman, issued an apology two weeks ago and a promise of full-refunds AND replacements to all those interested.
"We recognize that this product has not yet lived up to everyone’s expectations – including our own," Rahman wrote to consumers. "Jawbone remains deeply committed to addressing all issues with UP, investing in the category and giving our customers the tools to live a healthier life. We’ve temporarily paused production of UP bands and will begin taking new orders once these issues have been sorted out. In the meantime, we’ll continue to release app updates for existing users."
The refund program was launched on Dec. 9 and applies to any UP bracelet purchased from a Jawbone retailer in 2011.
I was one that was very excited by Jawbone because, unlike some other activity trackers, UP was also designed to follow your sleep patterns and track that into your personal fitness graph and could even be set to wake you when you are in a sleep cycle transition so that you aren't a cranky, evil monster in the morning. I am curious if the FuelBand will soon offer a similar set of features since some people are likely to just keep the band on all the time.
While the FuelBand retails at $50 more than Jawbone UP and another product FitBit, the brand recognition and iPhone integration will likely help the product stay competitive in the activity tracking space.
When Jawbone UPs return to the marketplace, it will really show which product the consumers want to buy -- and if any other designers will want to jump into the space and compete with the money that Nike has under its belt.
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Did I get enough exercise today? How many calories did I burn? Am I getting good quality sleep? How many steps and miles did I walk today? The Fitbit Tracker helps you answer these questions.