Nike CEO talks new focus on software for wearables, excited about future with Apple


Following the news last week that Nike is gearing up to shutter its wearable hardware efforts, CEO Mark Parker appeared on CNBC today to talk about the new direction. Parker says the company’s goal is to expand the FuelBand system, and that software and strategic partnerships will help them with that.

Obviously, he couldn’t say anything directly about the rumors that Nike is teaming up with Apple on a product, but Parker did note that the two companies have been working together for a long time. And when pressed about the speculation, he said that [Nike] is ‘excited’ about the future of the relationship…

 Here’s the clip via MacRumors (sorry, it’s in Flash):

And here’s the transcript of the brief conversation:

Parker: Our goal is to actually increase the number of users—those that can actually experience Nike Fuel and the Fuel system that we have, as well as other applications. So you’re going to continue to see us commit to this area, to focus on expanding the reach. Today we have about 30 million Fuel Band users, and we’re hoping to push that over 100 million. We have partners that we work with, obviously the most visible partner that we have is Apple. We’ve been working with them for a long time, and we’re excited about where that relationship will go forward.

CNBC: Well can you give us a hint? Are we going to expect some sort of collaborative device coming out, Nike and Apple?

Parker: I can’t really say that. There’s been a lot of speculation, which I understand. I will just say that the relationship between Nike and Apple will continue. And I am personally, as we all are at Nike, very excited about what’s to come.

CNBC: So just to be clear, are you out of the hardware business now and focusing more on the Fuel software business?

Parker: We are focusing more on the software side of the experience. I think we will be a part of wearables going forward—it will be integrated into other products and then we’re looking at expanding our partnerships to create more reach for the Nike Fuel and Fuel system.

For those that missed it, Geektime reported last week that Nike and Apple are working together on a fitness band—not a typical smartwatch—and that’s why Nike is letting go one-third of its FuelBand team. The site said the band would be filled with sensors and capable of controlling other devices via gestures.

While there’s not much evidence backing the ‘not-a-smartwatch’ fitness band theory, it seems fairly likely that Nike is at least somewhat involved in Apple’s plans. There’s just too much smoke here for there not to be a fire somewhere, and I don’t think Nike’s CEO said anything today to put out the flames.

Whatever it is, Apple is expected to release the so-called iWatch as early as September of this year.