Is Nike Preparing to Kick Off Another Smartwatch?


Wearable technology is at the top of many tech giants’ agendas, but recent reports show that the market is also now appealing more so than ever to big-name sports companies like Nike (NYSE:NKE) and Adidas.

Following Adidas’ launch of its first smartwatch, the miCoach Smart Run, DigiTimes reported Monday that Nike plans to launch a new smartwatch in the first half of 2014, according to sources at a Taiwan supply chain. DigiTimes, a Taiwan-based tech site, isn’t the most credible source when it comes to insider information — its reports are usually hit or miss — but the rumors still uncover an opening Nike might see as the smartwatch market slowly but surely reaches saturation.

Nike has already realized significant success with its fitness-tracking Nike+ FuelBand and more recent FuelBand SE device, but its current digital-based sports offerings pair only with iOS devices, and Adidas recently rolled out its $400 Smart Run wrist device that runs Android 4.1.1, Windows Phone 8, and iOS. Digital Trends reports that the Smart Run comes with a 1.45-inch 184 x 184 color touchscreen, 4GB of storage, and a 14-day charge in casual mode, presenting Nike with rigid competition and possibly prompting the company to answer with a more competitive product.

Adidas’s smartwatch is more than double the price of Nike’s $149 Fuelband SE, but the latter falls short of the Smart Run in terms of compatibility along with other appealing features, and that is where Nike’s new device may need to come into play.

According to DigiTimes, Nike currently accounts for 30 percent of the global sports gear market, and its new smart device is expected to have the same if not better compatibility as the devices it has already put on the shelves. Sources told the publication that the new wearable smart device is currently in trial production at EMS firm Flextronics International and should be launched in the first half of next year.

The rumored Nike watch will compete with Adidas’ offering and also Samsung Electronics’ (SSNLF.PK)  highly anticipated Galaxy Gear, released in August. It is still unclear how many devices the South Korean tech giant has sold, but the company said last month that it shipped 800,000 Galaxy Gear devices, suggesting significant consumer interest.

The smartwatch market is a lucrative one, but it is also becoming more crowded. DigiTimes reports that global shipments of smartwatches are expected to reach 24.15 million units in 2016 with an ASP of $100, and now the clock is ticking for rivals to roll out their best offerings.

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