Science and Tech


Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs?
Posted at 8:39 PM, Apr 19, 2014

​Nike has fired "as many as 55 people" from its Digital Sport team, according to a new report by CNET. What’s more, the firings all happened within its hardware team.

And that’s the team responsible for the Nike+ FuelBand — a wrist-mounted fitness tracker.

Apparently the bad news has been floating around the tech space for awhile. Anonymous app Secret hosts the alleged revelation, published about a week ago.

The CNET report gives the impression that this could spell the end for any future iterations of the device. "Nike planned on releasing another iteration of the FuelBand … but cancelled the project. And it appears to have shelved all future physical product projects under the Digital Sport helm."

But a writer for Re/code says Nike’s move doesn’t necessarily mean the Fuelband won’t see an update. 

He offers up some other possibilities for the layoffs, citing a source with knowledge of the situation. "It could be that Nike wants to be able to run down its inventory of devices, or that it still has not completely decided to shutter the unit." (Via Re/code)

And then there’s the whole issue of a certain someone on Nike’s board of directors who’s also CEO of a tech company that’s rumored to be releasing a fitness-tracking device of its own. (Via Apple)

Recent hires at Apple as well as several reports by various outlets all point to a wearable device coming out of the Cupertino company.

And that flashing red light hasn’t been ignored. A writer for Mashable notes the connection, writing: "Some are pointing to Nike's close relationship with Apple … as evidence that the companies are working together to develop a wearable computing device."

And then offers up a list of Twitter users who are noting the same thing. 

Tom Hatton writes "Nike shutting down fuelband should read: Apple gearing up iWatch launch." (Via Twitter / @tomrefme)

And Sam Sheffer offers up an interesting tidbit of speculation "THEORY: Apple, being tight with Nike, was like, 'Hey try this out for us. We wanna see what the market is like.' FuelBand. Born, killed." (Via Twitter / @samsheffer)

We won’t go so far as to speculate ourselves, but even we’ve got to admit it’s quite the coincidence.

Now, if Apple’s not the direct reason Nike chose to layoff most of its Digital Sport hardware team, a writer for TechCrunch says it could be because the FuelBand won’t be able to hold its own much longer. "The wearables market is about to get really, really crowded — primarily by devices that will do everything the FuelBand does, and more."

Which, yes, could include the rumored iWatch, but also includes the Fitbit, the Jawbone UP and loads more. (Via YouTube / Fitbit)