Nike’s FuelBand cutbacks – are fitness bands over already?

CNET published an exclusive story about Nike’s plans to shut down their FuelBand hardware section, including layoffs and a focus on software instead. This was rebuffed, sort of, by a spokesperson, although their quote was more about continued support of the existing bands, rather than expanding the line.

We will continue to improve the Nike+ FuelBand App, launch new METALUXE colors, and we will sell and support the Nike+ FuelBand SE for the foreseeable future.

Layoffs are never fun, and it’s a surprise to see that Nike are the first to fall out of love with fitness tracking – given the sporty nature of the company as a whole.

However, it’s not that surprising to me that the concept isn’t winning. I tried out one of the bands, and wore it religiously for a month or so. Then, like many others, I got bored of the whole thing, and it now rests somewhere on a shelf gathering dust.

That’s not to say that tracking fitness isn’t of interest, but like Nike, I think the future is in the software, rather than dedicated hardware for the cause. Runkeeper released a new app that tracks your steps, hoping to capitalise on the market of smartphone users that don’t like to jog everywhere. The only thing that tempts me to consider starting running again is the incredible Zombies Run – again, software, not hardware.

Investing in creating incredible apps and games for existing hardware seems to be the key, getting your stuff on the devices users actually engage with, rather than trying to force them to adjust their lives.

Fitness armbands are clearly trying to help, but although it might not sound like it, remembering to wear a band, charge it up, sync it, and walk more often is such a big change of habits that convincing the users to keep it up is tough. All you need is a zombie chasing after you, though, and it suddenly seems a lot more do-able.