Why I’m Ditching the Nike+ Fuelband

nikefuelband.jpgI recently reviewed three fitness trackers, and, after discussing the Nike+ Fuelband on a recent episode of The Committed podcast, decided I would try one out. But I’m not keeping it; I bought it from Nike, who offers unconditional 30 day returns, and I’m sending it back. (Bully to them, by the way; though if it had been available on Amazon UK – not sure why it’s not – I would have bought it that way, and Amazon offers the same return policy.)

Nike recently fired much of their wearables team, and, while the company claims they’re not dropping the Fuelband – or their other devices – it’s clear that they don’t have a brilliant future. Speculation is that Nike will be partnering with Apple to provide software for fitness and activity tracking features in the as-yet-inexistant iWatch.

This makes sense for several reasons. The Fuelband only syncs with iOS devices; you can sync it on your computer, but there are no Android apps. Nike has a long history of working closely with Apple; oh, and Tim Cook is on the company’s board of directors.

I kind of like the Fuelband. I wasn’t converted to the concept of Nike+ Fuel, though I can see that, as a relative measurement – more or less fuel today than yesterday – it’s as valid as any other metric. Since most of my activity is walking, a step counter, such as the Fitbit One, which I wear daily, captures my activity. But I could go either way.

The thing is, any such device that you wear on your wrist is cumbersome, unless it offers other features; something the iWatch should do, if it is ever launched. I did appreciate that the Fuelband has a watch; I haven’t worn one in more than a decade, and I did find myself using it to check the time occasionally. But aside from that, it’s a bulky device that offers nothing more than tracking.

If Nike hadn’t axed the wearables team just a few days after I got the Fuelband, I’d most likely have kept it. But I don’t want to get involved in a dying ecosystem. Like many people, I’d rather wait and see what Apple does, if they can create a wearable that is more useful than a simple fitness tracker. And, in the meantime, I’ll keep that Fitbit One on my pants. It’s there all the time, and I forget about it, until I check to see how many steps I’ve walked. That, to me, is how a fitness tracker should work.