Nike+ has taken awhile to move into the modern age, but it's finally here. Nike+ started out as a fitness app for the Apple  iPod line (Touch and Nano), but required separate hardware--in this case, specific Nike  sneakers with an embedded chip--to actually track progress. In the meantime, competitors like Adidas MiCoach  and the independent, Boston-based Runkeeper have (please pardon the pun) run with the idea (sorry!) and created fully autonomous GPS-tracking fitness apps that offer advanced features like Google Maps tracking and social networking.
So what's a sneaker giant  to do? Update the app, that's what. This weekend, Nike updated the Nike+ app  to offer new features that can actually compete with the scrappy upstarts like Runkeeper. Like its smaller competitors, the new Nike+ inserts your path into Google Maps as well as tracking the usual stats like pace, distance, and calories burned.
Nike+ also offers voice feedback, letting you know how your run is going, and syncs with Nike's 3-million-strong NikePlus.com community, Twitter, and Facebook. All of that is also offered by Runkeeper, but Nike+ has in-run motivational messages from trainers and celebrities! So how is Runkeeper feeling about Nike's newest encroachment on their turf?
Confident, it seems. In a blog post, Runkeeper played up the company's scrappy quickness and ability to react, claiming its willingness to work with every shoe manufacturer and every aspect of the fitness world is an advantage.
And in the end, our input-agnostic approach, our headstart, our ability to move quickly, and our ability to push the envelope in areas that would make big companies uncomfortable, will prevail. And while it is scary to have these big, well-resourced competitors jumping in, we believe strongly that our approach is the right one, and that the independent system will win in the end.
Nike+'s new app is available for iPhone, iPod Touch (lacking GPS) and iPad (why you'd want to jog with an iPad is beyond me, but the option's there) today for $1.99. In comparison, Runkeeper's app is either free (ad-supported, lacking voice commands) or $9.99 (premium). No word on possible Android or BlackBerry versions, but I wouldn't hold my breath.