As mentioned previously, I’m researching for the conference I’m talking at. This means reading, a lot (nothing new there). What is new is my reading material. Normally I’ll surf from one article to another rather than reading whole text books (seriously… snore). I’ll pull little bits of information from one place or another and glue them together to come up with insights. My brain has been called wikipedia before (along with a comment about it being a bit freakish).
So at the moment I’m reading The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss (great book, well written). I won’t go into details about it as I suggest you read it. However, he obviously talks about the MVP quite a bit (minimal viable product for those of you who don’t know). My reading has also coincided with the latest Apple launch this week.
Before I go off on one, I’ve mentioned that I read a lot and I retain a hell of a lot of random bits of information in my brain. Anyway, earlier this year, Nike canned their fuel band. Which was a little odd, as the market for wearables is picking up a pace, they had also released two versions of their product to the market. Very odd, as a third would mean (if they had learnt anything from Apple) was the right type of market space holder.
Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t go out and buy first generation Apple products. Whilst the first release of an Apple product that you’re likely to see is a damn good one, it’s still in their eyes an MVP. You can tell it from the design and that features are missing (remember the first iPhone, no 3G and no cut / copy / paste?).
So why am I rambling? Well the speculation was rife when Nike let their team go, that they didn’t let them go very far, they handed off the team into the waiting hands of Apple.
Nike don’t build tech. Lets be clear on that. Whilst the fuel band is a great concept it has turned their system into a proprietary product with ‘fuel’ instead of things that we recognise (like calories0. At the time bloggers were speculating that Apple wanted access to the social network that Nike had built (and maybe that was the case). Then if you add in the mix of the Beats purchase for cloud music you sort of see where they’re going (although IMHO, those two products would probably be bolted together in some way – can you say cloud music for athletes?).
There are startups out there or smaller tech companies who can do it better and faster. They can get a product to market that’s better and people will want. It makes sense that Nike would ditch the fuel band. The thing is, following the launch of the Watch this week (oh come on, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone), closer inspection of the sport versions look very close to the fuel band but with a bit more oomph.
So now I’m wondering, is Apple really releasing their standard MVP MK1 product, or is it for all intents and purposes Nike Fuel MK3? If so, the product could well be more stable and better than any other product launch they’ve done to date.
They will only make it work if they can offer something unique to it (and I’m sorry, but wifi music distribution and calls from a watch are just adding things in for the sake of it and not diversifying the product). Think outside the box Apple, don’t give us a regurgitated iPhone – give us a piece of wearable tech that has strong health benefits built into it – calories, heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration, fluid intake, pedometer – done WELL, would be a good start.
Will I jump on the bandwagon? I haven’t worn a watch in about 10 years, and even when I did, I didn’t really find them comfortable so possibly not. For me a watch would need to provide me with some value and not be intrusive to wear. If it can’t get over those stumbling blocks I really won’t care too much what else it can offer to me.