While the large majority of athletic gear is segmented for each specific sports market, Nike announced a product Thursday that sweeps across the entire sporting landscape and can be used by any athlete at any level: the Nike+ FuelBand, a rubber bracelet worn on the wrist during exercise and sports activities to measure “steps, calories, time & Fuel metric (currency measured by oxygen kinetics)."
According to its press release (titled "Nike+ FuelBand Makes Life a Sport") the company sees it as a tech-driven game-changer that unifies products, sports and fans' interests, with the sub-headline: "Nike innovates at the intersection of sport and data with a wristband that measures movement to motivate people to be more active."
The NikeFuel Twitter account comments, "Not only is the FuelBand a fun way to keep you active, but you can compete, collaborate & compare your activity w/each other." The cost is $150, "about 50% more expensive than the similar Fitbit device" as Slashgear comments. Nike is taking pre-orders online starting today and shipping the device on Feb. 22nd.
According to a tweet from a Nike marketer, "The @Nike+ FuelBand syncs with your iPhone via Bluetooth, provides on-device feedback, gives you @NikeFuel experience." Integrating Path technology with a free iPhone app and dashboard at NikePlus.com, it's being positioned as “the ultimate measure of activity.”
Before Nike even announced its new product Thursday morning, its stock went through the roof. According to the Portland Business Journal, the company’s “shares reached a split-adjusted all-time high Wednesday, cracking the $100 threshold” in the launch leadup, which includes this pop culture riffing spot:
Laying the groundwork, Nike recently launched its @nike Twitter account, “its first major social networking campaign,” the Journal reports. That is where the company has been getting folks ready for the big announcement, marking all related tweets with a #makeitcount hashtag as part of the brand's 2012 Make It Count marketing platform. Now Nike is layering on FuelBand's marketing pitch: "NikeFuel is the ultimate measure of activity. It isn't bought or sold. It's earned."
While this new foray into more technically-advanced digital monitoring is wooing athletes of any ability and any activity (Jimmy Fallon said in his intro at the New York press reveal: “If you have a body, you’re an athlete”), Nike+ had previously been “linked mostly to its running product, where the company has embedded chips in its shoes that link to mobile apps allowing runners to document their training sessions,” the Portland Business Journal reports.
“Historically, when Nike combines a strong marketing message with great product, they take dramatic share,” analyst Sam Poser of Sterne Agee wrote to his clients Wednesday, the Journal adds.
As part of the Make It Count campaign — which bears the tagline "Life is a sport. Make it count" — athletes associated with Nike have been tweeting (and will continue tweeting) specific goals for the year using the #makeitcount hashtag.
Helping propel Nike's #makeitcount initiative: top players for Arsenal and Manchester United in England, whose soccer cleats feature their own Twitter handles and the #MakeItCount hashtag emblazoned upon them, according to Footy-boots.com (and really, who else would you ask such a question?)
Below, check out how Nike teased today's announcement (at a New York press event that also featured Fallon's musical sidekick, Questlove of The Roots) and its celeb-laden promo and tell us what you think: is this the game-changer that Nike says it is, or a lot of hyperbole to sell $150 rubber bracelets? Weigh in below!