If Nike Kills The FuelBand, Is An iWatch Partnership With Apple Imminent?

Nike is reportedly laying off its FuelBand team to focus on fitness software, instead.

If Nike Kills The FuelBand, Is An iWatch Partnership With Apple Imminent?
[Image: Flickr user Peter Parkes]

You might want to think twice about purchasing a new Nike FuelBand. Over the weekend, CNET reported that Nike has decided to stop production of the fitness bracelet, which included a slimmer version planned for the fall. Of the company’s 70 FuelBand employees, 55 were reportedly let go.


Nike pushed back following the report, insisting the FuelBand remains “an important part of our business.” Nike spokesman Brian Strong told CNET:

As a fast-paced, global business we continually align resources with business priorities. As our Digital Sport priorities evolve, we expect to make changes within the team, and there will be a small number of layoffs. We do not comment on individual employment matters.

Nike instead will reportedly refocus its efforts on developing fitness software–Nike+, Nike+ Running, etc. And we’ve heard murmurs that Nike may be looking for a potential partner on the hardware side…

Can you say “iWatch”?

Apple and Nike are intrinsically tied. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been on Nike’s board of directors for almost a decade now, and that strategic partnership has manifested in some curious ways, like Nike’s decision to make the FuelBand incompatible with Google’s Android.

Several concept artists have based their iWatch renderings on Nike’s trim designs. As Fast Company previously reported, Apple is beefing up its wearables team to focus on health tracking, poaching little-known sleep experts specializing in sensors. But Apple’s most telling hire may have occurred last September, when Apple nabbed designer Ben Shaffer.

Shaffer’s last employer, of course, was Nike. Though Shaffer was not involved on the FuelBand project itself, he led Nike’s “Innovation Kitchen,” which specialized in exploring new construction technologies like the Flyknit.


At this point, an Apple-Nike iWatch is mostly speculation, and such a magical device by two of the world’s most innovative companies may never come to fruition. But I’d be surprised if there was nothing there.

About the author

Chris is a staff writer at Fast Company, where he covers business and tech. He has also written for The Week, TIME, Men's Journal, The Atlantic, and more.