Is Fitness Hardware going the way of the Sony Walkman?

The 1980s could well have been the Walkman decade. The popularity of Sony’s device  was legendary. By 1986 the word “Walkman” had entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Its launch coincided with the birth of the aerobics craze, and millions used the Walkman to make their workouts more entertaining. Between 1987 and 1997 — the height of the Walkman’s popularity — the number of people who said they walked for exercise increased by 30%.

Let’s flash forward to the 2010s. Product life cycles are compressing and design and functionality are expected. Nike, a company that introduced the FuelBand in January 2012, has announced it is leaving the fitness hardware market. This smart company realizes that it takes more than tracking people to motivate a change in behaviour.  An interesting article points explores the topic in great detail,  “The end of fitness bands? Wearable tech feels ready to move forward.”

From a first-hand experience, I have used Nike’s fitness platforms including a FuelBand and Nike Training for months. In the morning, the Nike Girls and I are working out together. I’m constantly cajoled that I’m almost there and to dig deeper. My goal is to maintain fitness. I’d largely succeeded throughout 2013, but I hit a wall when it came to wearables. Part of the lack of the success of the wearable is my own fault. Beyond the whole counting-your-steps contest, bands just don’t do a great job of helping you get more active beyond that. It didn’t really help coach me to be usefully active.

Image                  Image  The FuelBand and other fitness bands remind me of the Livestrong bracelet. I wore my cherished Livestrong bracelet into work about 2 months ago, and one of my young, hip coworkers shamed me into taking it off. It was outdated and passé in the ever-changing world of what is fashionable in the intersection of fitness and fashion.

 So what is a key learning from the story? You need to structure your company to get in and get out quickly of markets. Keep the entrepreneurial start-up mentality alive to survive.

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