Four brands shared the stage with Tim Cook as the Apple CEO and his executive team unveiled the new iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2: Nintendo, Pokemon Go, Hermès and Nike this week.
It’s the latter “perfect” running partnership that brought Nike Brand President Trevor Edwards to the stage at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, where Apple Watch was finally untethered from the iPhone. After all, runners don’t want to wear a monitor and carry a phone.
“Apple and Nike share a passion to make life easier and more fun, and we look forward to continuing this amazing journey together,” Edwards commented on the Apple Watch 2 integration with the Nike+ Run Club app, a partnership that comes 10 years after the Nike+ iPod brought the brands together.
“We know runners – and we know many are looking for a device that gives them an easy, fun way to start running,” Edwards added. “The market is full of complex, hard-to-read devices that focus on your data. This focuses on your life. It’s a powerful device with a simple solution – your perfect running partner.”
Back in April, Nike pulled the plug on its FuelBand fitness tracker after four years of trying to make a go of it in the wearable tech market, a move that some saw as paving the way for an Apple Watch integration. Nike offered rebates to anyone who purchased a FuelBand between 2012 and 2015 in a $24 million settlement over false FuelBand claims.
Cue the Apple Watch Nike+, a running watch that offers “run-tracking functionality,” a “breathable” watchband and is sweat-resistant. Evidence of the partnership can also be seen in “iconic Nike watch faces” as well as integration with a new Nike+ Run Club app. The new product came out as part of a big product launch from Apple, including new versions of the iPhone.
The Apple Watch Nike+ has a unique band and design for runners and built-in apps that make it easier to access running features. Motivational messages help runners stay engaged in a variety of ways.
It follows Nike’s disappearance from the fitness-wearable market this past spring, when Nike dismissed its wearable hardware team. Some of them were hired by Apple work on its wearable tech team. Now they’re seeing their efforts bear front, with the co-branded Apple Watch, priced from $369-$399, available for pre-orders on September 9.
“Apple Watch is the ultimate device for a healthy life and we wanted to push it further to create the best smartwatch in the world for runners and athletes,” stated Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO, in a press release. “Apple Watch Nike+ takes performance tracking to a whole new level and we can’t wait to bring it to the world’s largest community of runners.”
“This isn’t just a watch, it’s your perfect running partner,” Nike’s Edwards said. “It’s simple, fun, and easy to use. We give you a shortcut that takes you straight into your run. If you prefer, you can just tell Siri to start a run and off you go. If you’re the type who really wants a lot of detail we have advanced mode just for you.”
Nike recently overhauled its Run Club app in the wake of discontinuing its dedicated fitness tracker two years ago, while maintaining a long history with Apple.
The Nike+ iPod, announced in May 2006, was a pioneer in connected sport. In September 2010 Nike released the Nike+ Running App (originally called Nike+ GPS) on the App Store, which used a tracking engine powered by MotionX that didn’t require a separate shoe sensor or pedometer. Instead, the app used the accelerometer and GPS of the iPhone and the accelerometer of the iPod Touch, which didn’t have a GPS chip.
The Nike+ Running App for iOS, meanwhile, was compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus down to iPhone 3GS and iPod touch. Now that Nike and Apple are partnering on a co-branded wearable geared at athletes, the next move may be FitBit’s (a partnership with Under Armour, perhaps?)
Below, a look back at the Nike+ FuelBand: