Nike+ moves from app to platform with four new device partners

After going it alone with health tracking hardware, Nike is expanding relationships to use its Nike+ app with non-Nike devices. The company announced four new hardware partners on Friday — Garmin, Tom Tom, Wahoo Fitness and Netpulse — with a new “Partners” app feature to connect the Nike+ app with third-party devices.

The updated Nike+ Running App makes pairing with the new partners easy. Users will see a “Partners” screen when they update or download the app. The “Connect a Partner” button guides users to settings to manage preferences and establish the seamless connection between Nike+ and the partner apps and devices.

The idea here is to expand the use of Nike+ and give the app’s users more freedom to choose a wearable device or software platform. That’s a sharp change from Nike’s several-year approach of exercise tracking with devices ranging from footpod step-trackers and, more recently, its FuelBand wearable band.

Change has been in the wind for some time, however, as [company]Nike[/company] first kept its software limited to [company]Apple[/company] iOS devices for several years and recently releasing a Nike+ app for Android. And roughly a year ago there were reports of Nike abandoning its own hardware efforts and laying off much of the Fuelband team. As a long-time runner, I welcome the change from app to platform; it’s long overdue.

Nike has reportedly fired most of its FuelBand team and is getting out of the hardware business

Nike has let go most of the members of its FuelBand wearables unit and will stop developing new versions of the device, according to a report by CNET. The tech news site quoted an unnamed person “familiar with the matter” as saying that the firm has laid off 70 to 80 percent of its 70-person hardware division and will not produce a new version of the FuelBand, but will continue to sell the existing version. Some industry observers believe Nike has decided to align itself with Apple, which is expected to launch an iWatch or other wearable device that might run Nike’s Fuel software. Apple CEO Tim Cook is a member of Nike’s board.