30
Oct
fuelband thumb

Ever since Nike introduced its FuelBand wearable fitness tracker last year, there's been a rather loud and unsatisfied cry from users of the biggest mobile operating system on the planet: "Where the hell is the Android version?" Even while competitors like Fitbit Jawbone's UP have embraced Android, Nike FuelBand has remained an iOS exclusive, and Nike has made a point of explicitly stating that there's no Android version of the app in development. A new interview from Pocket-lint sheds some light on why.

fuelband

Nike's VP of Digital Sport, Stefan Olander, blames the relative scarcity of Bluetooth Low-Energy (sometimes called BLE or Bluetooth Smart), a feature in the Bluetooth 4.0 spec, for the company's lack of Android support.

With 200 Android devices available on the market, Bluetooth LE hasn't really matured for Android yet and so we felt that we couldn't get the most out of an app on Android at this time. ...with iPhone we have one set of hardware, and can delve deeper into the operating system to get the most out of what we can do. We've worked with Apple for seven years and like that they set the bar high for themselves as well as others. It is about the experience.

Fair enough, Nike. If BLE is an essential technology for FuelBand and only a few Android devices support it, I suppose it makes sense that an Android app isn't a priority. But hang on a minute: which of those "200 Android devices" are we talking about? Here are some of the more notable phones (we'll omit tablets given the use case scenario) with the hardware to support the Nike FuelBand and FuelBand SE:

  • Samsung Galaxy S III
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • LG Nexus 4
  • LG Optimus G
  • LG Optimus 4X
  • LG G2
  • HTC One

Not only are these some of the most high-end devices of their respective product lines (you know, the kind that might appeal to the same segments as Apple hardware), they're also some of the best-selling phones out there. Even if you restrict the numbers to the GSIII, GS4, Note II, and Note 3, we're talking about an estimated userbase of more than 120 million people. 120 million potential customers that Nike is ignoring in the name of its "experience."

True, not all of these devices support BLE at the moment: the spec wasn't introduced in Android until Jelly Bean 4.3. The Galaxy S III, S4, Note II, and HTC One are just now starting to get their 4.3 updates, and the LG G2 launched with 4.2 in September. But the FuelBand SE was announced just two weeks ago, months after 4.3 rolled out to Nexus 4 owners, and in plenty of time for Nike to draw the conclusions I've made above for themselves. Every high-end Android phone released from this summer onward will support the hardware required for the FuelBand, including the Nexus 5, HTC One max, and whatever follows Samsung's current generation of phones. It's not as if Nike needs to create a new fitness gadget just for Android - all they would need to do is make an Android app (and they already have two). So why has Nike continued to ignore a huge chunk of the market?

fuelband2

The answer may lay in a throwaway line at the end of Pocket-lint's interview. I'll quote directly from the article:

Olander told Pocket-lint a number of times during our quick interview that it isn't that Nike is against Android, but that Nike is "waiting for someone to create an experience that aligns with our values," something that it seems no-one has done yet. Olander also said that Nike is keen to have other manufacturers embrace the Nike Fuel system, although didn't go further than beyond that.

"An experience that aligns with our values." "Embrace the Nike Fuel system." This sounds like a roundabout way of saying, "we want some money." Nike's relationship with Apple has been in place since before Android was even available to consumers, so it's fair to say that the two companies have a cozy partnership. I doubt that Apple is actually incentivizing Nike to snub Android, but with enough money and promotional consideration, it would be quite easy for Nike to ignore the potential for expansion to a new platform.

Let me make this perfectly clear: I have no evidence that Nike is purposefully avoiding Android support in favor of iOS, aside from the company's public statements that it has no plans to do so. I absolutely have no evidence of Apple steering Nike away from its only real threat in the mobile market. I just think that at this point, Nike's protestations ring especially hollow considering how many potential customers they are leaving behind.

But hey, there's a simple solution here. The often-used mantra "vote with your wallet" applies perfectly to this situation: if you want a personal fitness tracker that works with the phone you already own, buy one. From anyone that isn't Nike.

Source: Pocket-lint

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • htowngtr

    Doesn't someone from Apple sit on Nike's BOD? Oh, right, Tim Cook.

    • Jeremiah Rice

      How 'bout that.

    • Jonathan Zelayandia

      yea, they definitely spelled "we're paid to keep it exclusive" wrong.

    • droid4lif3

      No wonder, they should just call themselves Nipple.

      • antifud

        Why? That's what they suck *on*, not what they represent.

    • Wozn2

      Two companies who know everything about abusing child labor. Best avoided.

      • P.

        That is what they probably mean with "experience that aligns with our values"

    • Biba Nishima

      You've enlightened my day sir, thx.
      Anyway, I can't imagine the investment in developing an Android version of their app wouldn't be profitable.

  • Yebra21

    I think Nike doesn't cant advertise as it working for ios and Android. They would have to say "for ios and these phones"

    • mrjayviper

      Marketing nightmare

      • Tim Norris

        Unless you prepend the words to say:
        Works for iOS and Premium Android Devices.

        The thing about it is then they can determine what they feel is premium, and it just happens to be what they got paid to support.

        But still their loss.

        • mrjayviper

          and then they have to explain clearly what they think is "premium" android devices. Instead of something simple, the ad becomes a nightmare of sorts

          • Tim Norris

            Why, it wouldn't be the first time that a company has done so. Have you never heard the phrase: "Available at finer stores nationwide."

            It is used in marketing promotions for luxury goods such as jewelry, cosmetics, fashion, and cars.The implication is that only the best use/stock it, so it instantly adds credence that your goods are premium.

            Now it is still bunk to most informed consumers, but most consumers are not informed consumers. Why else would someone buy an inferior product, or one that doesn't meet/exceed their needs.

            It doesn't make any sort of marketing nightmare. In fact, it makes it a desirable product to a certain niche, and allows you to increase your brand's desirability to a whole group and increase the cost for them.

          • Gator352

            Just say: "Works on iOS and supported Android devices!"
            Nuff said.

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    • topgun966

      Actually they can't just say iOS. Btle wasn't in till the 4s.

  • mrjayviper

    The article seems to make a big deal about the lack of android app when in fact it's a simple solution of voting with one's wallet. Much ado about nothing? Or slow news day?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      A heavy news cycle doesn't preclude the publishing of editorial content. I'd also argue that the conclusion of the post makes the exact point you just made.

      • mrjayviper

        if the conclusion is as simple as what I said, why is there a need for the article. self-entitlement from the author is just oozing

        • Tim Norris

          For one, this site has editorials, just like every enthusiast site out there, editorials drive visitors, else you wouldn't come here either.

          For another, ALL stories can be broken down to a simple premise [I.E. Apple announces new phone, faster than older.], you go to a site to get someone's take on something. Otherwise, all news would be press releases, and you wouldn't have multiple news sites, just one.

        • mckooter

          Sir, i think the site you are looking for is Twitter. :D

  • Steven Santinelli

    Love my Fitbit and it works great with my note 2. Oh and my gf has a Fitbit too and she has an iPhone. Good luck Nike.

  • jm9843

    Fitbit is better anyway.

  • Stephen Long

    I'm an Android user/device owner. Whether I "vote with my wallet" or not, your product does not "align with my values." Nike, you have effectively ruled me out as a potential customer. That does not seem like a smart business decision.

    • kathemv088

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      • Mystery Man

        dat sister

  • jeffrey6283

    Don't worry. Apple didn't pay Nike to ignore BT LE much like they didn't pay PopCap to "continue working on the Android version to make it better".

  • sutjahjo

    No Nike product for me from now on.

  • MrWicket

    and to that I say screw any developer or product/service maker that ignores the existence of Android.. you're only shooting yourself in the wallet Nike.

    • ari_free

      and the foot. They make shoes, you know

      • MrWicket

        that too!

  • Jadephyre

    Screw Nike then, their shit is overpriced anyway, and produced just as cheaply in Bangladesh as everything else.

  • irtechneo

    They should have just kept quite about it rather than give such a bogus explanation.

  • disqus_7XunpanFgK

    Let's see. All Galaxy S3 and S4, all Note 2 and Note 3, plus Nexus 4, LG Optimus G series and tomorrow the Nexus 5. That = roughly 150 million phones, give or take a few million, and potential buyers that are being ignored. How many iOS users with BT LE 4.0 are out there right now?
    It's okay Nike. Much like Apple, you brought out a 2nd gen band that is identical to the first with only a very small internal improvement. I own the original Fuelband, but will wait for a better product to come out from FitBit or another competitor. You've lost my money, because I'll never buy another iDevice.

  • Brandon Smith

    I'm sorry, but I had to sign up to point out the inaccuracies in your unnecessary diatribe.

    Yes, BTLE has been available in multiple phones already, but they all use their own SDKs. So, to target HTC, Samsung, and Nexus devices, Nike would need to create an app that uses 4.3 APIs, the Samsung BTLE SDK, and the HTC BTLE SDK. Once they do that, they then can't support devices made by Motorola, Xiaomi, Sony, etc. Even if they were to do that, they would have to deal with the licensing issues of those SDKs.

    On the other hand, Apple has had Bluetooth LE support since the iPhone 4S. That means 80% of in-use iOS devices can take advantage of the Fuelband without any special code.

    -Someone who devs for Android, is a Glass Explorer, and knows nothing about iOS development.

    • Jeremiah Rice

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I assumed that if your phone has 4.3 and an applicable Bluetooth radio, no matter what's on top of it in the form of skins or what have you, you can access the Google-supplied BTLE API. I don't see why you'd need to use the manufacturer SDKs unless you're trying to tie into the specific features in Sense/TouchWiz/whatever.

      I'm not trying to criticize here. I've had multiple people on the AP team take a look at this, including Artem, and they've found no issues.

      • Brandon Smith

        Yes, 4.3 should allow BT4 radios to more or less "just work" with BTLE (I believe the OEM needs to do some driver kung fu, but it's not serious), but that's moot. What you're suggesting is that Nike targets a (presumably) million dollar-budgeted app for 1.5% of the Android user base. (That's according to the Android Dashboard). You would need the other SDKs to target devices below 4.3, which would obviously be 98.5% of in-use devices.

        Sorry if I came off as crass, but your article just seemed very self-entitled and paid no real attention to the engineering constraints that Android imposes on BTLE. Sure, in a year or two this won't be an issue, but as it stands, making a universal BTLE app on Android is a pain in the ass.

        • Jeremiah Rice

          I see your point, but I still think that Nike is being overly dismissive of the platform. They're not saying "we're not making it right now" or even "we'll look into it in the future." They've said that there is nether active development nor even the consideration of development for Android, period. Considering the timing of the FuelBand SE launch and the 4.3 updates and devices this summer and fall, after which there has been no significant change in Nike's stance, it's still a very deliberate move on Nike's part to ignore Android. As another commenter noted above, the company's relationship with Apple and Tim Cook may have a lot to do with that.

          • Brandon Smith

            That's a fair point to bring up. Nike should at least be investigating new avenues to put the product on Android. Though, "waiting for someone to create an experience that aligns with our values" is just business speak for "waiting until it's easy and cheap to do with a high ROI." It's understandable that they're waiting for Android's BT4 ecosystem to finally settle.

          • Keg Man

            to interject a little metaphor. NIKE pretty much only makes shoes for people with skinny feet. Theres millions of people who cant wear nikes. do they care? the short answer is no.

        • http://www.rebelwithoutaclue.com/ Rebel without a Clue

          I think a million dollar app is a bit on the high side, I think 100.000 is even high for developing such an app

      • Sietai

        Manufacture's SDK is for the phones that aren't on 4.3 yet. Samsung and HTC have had their own BTLE libraries for their devices since before 4.3.

        The idea is a lot less marketable when only a small portion of android phones have any sort of BTLE support.

      • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

        Wrong. The Galaxy Nexus has the hardware to support BTLE, but Google did not enable it when 4.3 was deployed. Some G-Nex ROM enables it and found it workable. In addition, if you did some Google searches, you will find that there are problems with some OEM's SDK, such as Motorola's. Also, think about it -- even Samsung doesn't make the Galaxy Gear compatible with non 4.3 Bluetooth LE. Nike does deserve some blames, but I think Google is the one that makes the situation so bad. They chose to rewrite the Bluetooth stack from scratch in 4.2. Apparently, they did not have the resources to do the rewrite and support BLE at the same time. Given how slow OEM/carriers update their devices, this creates a big hole in the BTLE support within the Android ecosystem.

      • philask

        A standard API has ONLY JUST appeared, even six months ago it was impossible to consider BLE on Android... This entire article is ridiculous and should be updated with a "we screwed up" addendum.

        • Rafalca2012

          @philask:disqus speaks the truth guys. Nike was smart to wait since they knew it'd be only a matter of months until it would be significantly easier to bring the app to Android devices.

    • Walkop

      Actually, they had their own BLE SDK BEFORE Android 4.3. Google made it a standard with 4.3, so it should be simple now to code compatible apps.

      • Brandon Smith

        That would be great if 4.3 were on more than a handful of devices. Until that day comes (which history has shown us won't be for a long while), devs need to target manufacturer-specific SDKs to make sure pre-4.3+ devices can use their products.

      • philask

        Umm no, each OEM had its own broken implementation which sometimes worked, if you were lucky, and existed on maybe one or two of their models. Don't blame Nike, blame the OEMs and Google.

  • HitokiriX

    They can take their fuelband and eat a bowl of hot dick.

    • WestIndiesKING

      hahahahahha thats awesome

    • droid4lif3

      thats a good one.

    • Sean

      Revenge is a dish best served cold, no?

      • HitokiriX

        I wouldn't have someone eat cold dick... That would just be downright rude.

  • Iwan

    The bitterness is strong with this post.

  • Greyhame

    Fuck you, Nike.

  • Apa Chen

    NIKE design products base on iPhone. That's all.

  • http://www.geordienorman.com/ George Byers

    Us android users are just not good enough for nike and there big badge...... pretty sure Nike is in bed with apple come on nike owns air as a trademark, so why have they not sued apple for macbook air? well, the answer is obvious

    • NF

      It's as obvious as why I can breathe Air™.

      A trademark only applies to that industry. Apple didn't have a problem with the Apple Records trademark until iTunes.

      • Gator352

        Bullshit. Apple sued NEW YORK CITY for using a "trademarked" Apple that looked similar in some ways to advertise "The Big Apple" !! Something NYC is famous for.
        The list goes on and on....

  • Jason Murray

    How interoperable is Samsung's BLE implementation with HTC's? Does a developer need to implement BLE functionality for HTC AND for Samsung AND for LG, etc?

    Maybe once the majority of device run 4.3+ with a standard way of addressing BLE devices built into the OS, this will happen.

  • http://www.twitter.com/b_boogey_xl b_boogey_xl

    So what are they using for the iPhone 4? I can still connect and sync with my old iPhone 4 all with Bluetooth. What's the excuse for not giving Android users just that?

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    Let's not forget that only the NEWEST version of the FuelBand supports BTLE. So this argument sounds like a very new excuse for an ongoing snub.

  • Pratik Holla

    If Nike doesnt want my bussiness for thier over priced devices, who am I to complain? Lots of better options out there anyway.

  • Chip Estrada

    Nike is for iDiots, thats why I dont have a fuel band, or an iPhone. There are more Android phones than apple phones. So Nile dosent want their busines, my proof that yhey are iDiots.

  • Hans Pedersen

    This just makes it a bit easier for me to pick a pair of trainers the next time I'm looking at that wall of shoes at the store... "Nike, eh?.... Moving right along."

  • Lou .

    I rather wait for Jawbone's UP with soon hopefully Ingress Compatibility. The partnership already exists, now we are just waiting for it to come into full action!

  • Babs Oyed

    I'm voting with my wallet and my vote certainly won't be for Nike

  • peter

    I have a HTC one S and I have a nike-fuelband. I plug it in at work in to my work PC to sync. Most the time it is just a glorified watch... and a beautiful one at that. I love my nike fuelband... but seriously any better product comes along I am gone. If Nike wants to be exclusive and all that, they need to realize at the end of the day they are peddling a product... and this kind of attitude just shows to me that the success in the fuelband was just luck. Good luck in the future Nike, hope you are happy just making rubber shoes because with such a naive view of technology you are not going to go far. Here is an idea why dont you (Nike) actually employ some good Android developers and see if how they feel about developing for Android, because if you ask on of your Apple fanboy developers if they can make an app they are going to say Android sucks.

  • sachin goral

    Now I get it :-(

  • Krzysztof Bryk

    little corection, all samsung devices equipped with BLE chip but still on 4.2.2 could be running BLE with special sdk samsung introduced - so to run it needed special app writen based on that sdk as it would have issues pairing with the BLE devices. now ofc with 4.3 support it will be supportedd in system level

    http://developer.samsung.com/ble

  • MughalMAB

    They wanna make an app, but Apple is not letting them to do! :-(

  • vibe

    Anyway I love Adidas more.

  • rocketjack

    Well written article.
    Keep it up Jeremiah and AP. :)

  • Primalxconvoy

    I think it's fair to say that not many of the devices you've mentioned are rocking anything after 4.1. My own galaxy note 2 still hasn't been updated past 4.1 by docomo and probably never will.

    That means, if I'm right, Android simply hasn't got the numbers needed for an app.

    • Jeff Badger

      While you are right that Android as a whole has just added Bluetooth 4.0 and low energy, you are incorrect about the Galaxy Note 2. A lot of OEMs added Bluetooth 4.0 to their handsets even though the Android version did not include it. This is true of Samsung and its most popular phones.

  • flosserelli

    Nike can keep all of their crap. I couldn't care less if Nike ever brings anything to the android platform because I wouldn't use it anyway. I stopped wearing Nike shoes long ago because they were always too narrow (while Reeboks and Adidas fit perfectly). Nike sportswear fits no better than other brands, yet is the most expensive besides Under Armour.

  • AlessaMobile

    No more nike shoes in my house. i sayed

  • Seanzky

    I call bullshit and I've said it before. Tim Cook is on their board and that's the real reason why. Look at Nike stores. Look at their packaging. Look at how their staff are dressed. It reminds me of walking into an Apple store. Nothing wrong with it, but it reeks Tim Cook. Nike needs to cut the BS and just say it plainly.

    And while this Stefan Olander is lying in his interviews, he shamelessly hypes Apple products and "experience" while he's at it. Very subtle there, Olander. Nice try.

  • ari_free

    Everyone knows it's really because of their Apple partnership. Just like Hopstop

  • Marcel Jeannin II

    I would like my fitbit to work with my nexus 4,google.

  • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

    "An experience that aligns with our values." "Embrace the Nike Fuel system." This sounds like a roundabout way of saying, "we want some money."

    This was my favorite part of the post by far.

  • Dean_TO

    The Polar loop is much better anyway. It has a Heart Rate Monitor which is essential if you really want to know whats going on with your workout. The Nike FuelBand is a toy.

  • disqus_RmlBWYR4CP

    the problem is not the bleutooth le hardware the prblem lies in the api wicht controlls the LE bleutooth chip. every android device manufacturer has made its own so no compatibillity. we will have to wait until google writes universal api

    • Brayden Reesor

      They did, in Android 4.3.

  • GraveUypo

    wth does this even do?

  • Runfrom Da’Popo

    Nike can eat dogs cocks.

  • dkb827

    fitbit is another incompetent company when it comes to BT LE and andriod 4.3 they only support Apple and Samsung devices, which is ridiculous because there is a modified version of there app that works with other devices such as nexus and HTC One.

  • RDPG

    Unless a device has 4.3 it doesn't truely support BLE because you would have to use HTC or Samsung's shitty BLE api. So think actionbarsherlock but for ble support.

  • OhYeah!

    "waiting for someone to create an experience that aligns with our values," That should be Nike's job, I wish they would quit being lazy/gready and just make an app already.

  • Drwuzer

    Fuck Nike, there's plenty of other companies in this game that support Android.

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  • WishingforFeatures

    misinformed. Even with the update (4.3), BLE does not work on many/most of these Android devices, including my Note 2. This isn't a conspiracy, it's poor business on Google's part.

  • David Cloutman

    I own the Galaxy S3, which I bough specifically because I thought it would support Bluetooth LE. I use Runkeeper and wanted to pair my phone with a Wahoo Fitness heartrate strap. After much swearing and consulting the Internet, I learned that even though Bluetooth Low Energy was supported on the chipset, Samsung could not actually get their software to support it. I was pretty pissed about that, but it goes to show why a company like Nike would shy away from the Android market for now.

    As and aside, I also have two Lenovo devices with SIM card slots but no cellular radio chip, so this sort of thing happens - unless you're Apple. If you're Apple, you build something with no ports that is held together with soilder and epoxy that you will throw away in six months and cannot be recycled.

  • Will.I.am.not

    Yeah you really need BLE for that sync once a day. BLE is good for devices that need a constant data stream. But the Fuel Band only syncs when the user tells it to and then in about 30 seconds it drops the connection. Try again Nike, it's because of your board members and relationships with Apple.