Apple+Nike. Apple+Dilution.

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

A few years ago, the Durex Condom Company started co-branding with various "good" companies. Among them was a car manufacturer, who touted their cars were "as safe as Durex condoms". Needless to say, the whole contraption flopped miserably, despite a rather warm reception from the ad crowd -- a group to which I am sometimes told I belong. Now, the Apple+Nike campaign sounds like a good idea in many aspects but, for some reason, I can't help equating it with the defunct Durex+ efforts. (Note the effective use of a mathematical operator underlining the close relationship existing between both corporate DNAs in a symbiotic, market-empowering, consumer-centered fashion.)


Janak Parekh
2006-05-25 10:34:30
Er... have you really not seen anyone exercising with an iPod? I can't disagree with you more, and can see many casual runners adopting this. I already have a nano and have been looking to buy a pair of sneakers. Since the kit itself is $29, it seems like a no-brainer to me to at least try Nike+ shoes -- and, with that very thought, Apple and Nike have already won.

I think you're thinking way too much about the branding here. It's a very practical partnership.

Sandro Fouche
2006-05-25 10:35:10
So what you're saying is that you're not a runner.

If you were, you might realize that almost every distance runner would like to know their pace information (how well am I training relative to last time), and most already carry an iPod.

With gadgets to track running pace (this device seems to go beyond a pedometer and tracks speed) cost $200+, it seems like a pretty good deal for almost everyone involved. Runners who already carry iPods get a cheap way to enhance their training, Nike sells more shoes to runners (who are not necessarily Nike fans at this point), and Apple increases iPod lock-in through the increased iPod eco-system.

Apple has already teamed with Burton on an iPod connected jacket, and various car manufacturers (notably BMW) have been in the Apple fold for a while.

As for your mental image of Nike, I think you're confusing Nike with Adidas, Converse or Sketchers.

2006-05-25 10:38:17

Thanks for your comment. I guess only time will tell and I'm sure the product will appeal to some people and will even be of great use to them.


2006-05-25 10:45:29

I am indeed not a runner. I do realize however that distance runners would like to know that information however, for having done quite a bit of hiking in my time (so to speak). I would assume however the less complex the equipment, the better the experience.

I agree about the lock-in but how long will it last? Shoes change very quickly and I'm not sure we'll see "iPod sensor ready" shoes in a year or two. A car, on the other hand, is something people keep, probably longer than they'll keep the iPod itself.

As far as mental images go, I assume there is a question of markets here. In most of the countries I know, Adidas is grandpas' brand and nobody under the age of 50 would be caught wearing them -- which I never really understood but that is a different question.


2006-05-25 11:09:50
Not to pile on, but this product is revolutionary--a fact that may not be readily apparent to a non-runner. Most serious runners are also SERIOUS stat-hounds. They want to know pace, distance, times, improvements/declines, etc. etc. In this case, the branding is completely secondary to the technology. This is not about image at all, it's about practical application of cool ideas. People will buy this in droves, I'll bet on it. The minute they get some Air Pegasus' in stock with this, I know will buy both those and a Nano (I have a shuffle now). Welcome to Excercise 2.0.
2006-05-25 11:10:54
Sketchers is fairly hip-hop, and Nike is too. They are more "sporty" than hip-hop, although the two certainly coincide a certain amount.

As for the product itself, it seems like a decent idea. If I ran I might pick one up. It seems to do more than just track information but also have interesting iPod related features too. Didn't it say that you could program it to play a certain song on the final stretch of your jog? I don't think it will make a huge impact, but I don't think it will flop either.

lee asadoorian
2006-05-25 11:48:45
I agree that Apple-Nike is off the mark, but I don't think the people with gold chains, gangsta rap, etc. will be the ones falling for this stuff. This is strictly for runners, mostly receational ones caught up in cool stuff, but maybe even a few serious ones. As an Asics shoe man and Apple snob (since 1988), I won't buy it and don't think it's worth a damn.
2006-05-25 11:50:07
Francois - you don't get it. Put down the "pen" and step aside!
2006-05-25 11:54:30

In which shoes should I step? Nike+ Moires or just pedestrian trainers? ;-)


2006-05-25 12:43:54
I will never buy this. I bought a pair of Nikes once. They were poorly made from shoddy material. They disintegrated in less than a month. I never have, and never wii, buy anotehr product from Nike.
2006-05-25 12:46:53
The main thing I think of with Nike is 'sweatshop' - regardless of what they've done since, it's the least 'cool' sports brand.
2006-05-25 13:03:27
I think you're missing the silver lining here: Nike is making shoes and Apple is making iPods. As someone who once owned a Nike branded MP3 player, let me just say this is the way it should be.

As for Nike branding, I actually think of Nike as being a fairly classy company image wise, but perhaps that was in large part to their incessant Michael Jordan tributes; an athlete that's as classy as they come.

Alex Diablon
2006-05-25 13:55:35
I'm a runner and I like the idea, though I'd never buy Nike shoes for running. As someone earlier mentioned, if the technology moves to Asics and my model of shoe, I'll probably try it out. Nike is more about the Logo and the status rather than the quality and technology for running shoes (my opinion). I wonder if targeting ipod/runners would have been with a runner's brand of shoes. Come to think of it, no one in my running club wears Nikes. Maybe the pairing would have been better with Nike basketball shoes and the iPod. The idea would be everytime the user took a jumpshot, the iPod would playback the sound of an audience cheering. :-)
Small Paul
2006-05-25 14:35:52
Just like everyone else says: people jog with their iPods. Nike might now sell some more shoes to iPod people, and Apple might sell some adapter thingies to people with Nike shoes.

And doesn't Nike sell aesthetically pleasing sportswear at somewhat higher prices than other sportswear? Sounds like a perfect fit with Apple, brand-wise, to me.

2006-05-25 14:46:12
As someone who trains, I think it looks pretty cool. It has my music, my motivator/feedback, and an easy way to track my progress over time.

I wish they something for my Concept 2

Rock on!

2006-05-25 15:21:56
As someone who runs a site for people to track their steps with a pedometer, I feel like I can say that judging from my users:

-most people will love this for about a week, then lose interest.
-some people will enjoy it for a month, before dropping off.
-and a hardcore few who are competitive with themselves and addicted to stats will use it regularly, and derive a huge amount of benefit from it.

It's an age of statistics -- weather, stocks, sports scores, most everything is viewable in realtime now. I think it's very cool to see these kind of stats updated for our own bodies -- I wish there were more gadgets like this. And for people who like to, and get addicted to tracking stats, it's going to really help their running.

2006-05-25 15:28:22
You are right about possible brand diffusion, but in the case of running, the ipod and nike brands go together well since, well, those of us that run like taking our ipod with us. FYI nike stands for great running shoes to me, not "gangsta."
2006-05-25 16:14:04
I'm not a runner but my wife is, out 3+ times a week with her trusty 1G iPod and instrumented with a Polar heart rate monitor. She's no techno-gadget geek (way the other end of the scale) but I think this would work for her as many times we've had to drive her run routes to check the mileage! We'd have to upgrade to a Nano though. I note, however, that Nike's involvement with this gizmo is somewhat tenuous - the shoe only contributes a little pocket for the sender. It occurs to me that a judiciously placed Band Aid under a running sock could site the sensor just as usefully and that takes Nike out of the equation.
Marx Jr.
2006-05-25 16:43:11
Classic class conflict. You think of Apple as being in your class, and Nike as being lower class, so you're mad at Apple for tarnishing its brand. Whateva' dwag.
J. Patrick Greer
2006-05-25 19:14:45
I totally disagree with the opinion. For one I personally don't associated Nike with rapers, even though it is a brand with that subculture. I recognize more as company that produces atheletic wear and to co-market an iPod with a sports product company is very smart. The place I use my iPod more than any other is when walking or at the gym. I love the all-one concept of being able to track my exercises via the iPod. I hope they are more choices in the future than just working with Nike shoes but I'd by lying if I didn't say I was tempted to consider these next shoes for my next purchase even though I find Reeboks tend to fit me better for some reason.

I one time I had a "smart pedometer" called Sportbrain and it was a good concept but was something addition to take care of and did not have a display. Sportbrain even feel on hard times for a while and by the time they got reorganized I lost interest in the product. I agree with others who say this is a practical partnership.

NB Zealot
2006-05-25 19:22:18
I'm a distance runner, and the iPod Nano was absolutely a perfect fit for me, the first portable music player that fit my workouts (Yepp didn't hold enough music) and wasn't like toting a brick. I see this as benefitting Nike more than Apple in terms of sales. I own an iPod, but I'd never give a second glance to Nike shoes because I've been buying the same NB series for three years now. However, someone else might... who knows?

Runners feel the same way about shoes as hackers do about computers. If Nike can borrow a little bit of that iPod halo effect, maybe they can convince a few people who buy six pairs of shoes a year to "switch".

2006-05-26 01:34:14

Definitely not piling on! Comments are here to be used and there is nothing like a healthy discussion to shed light on the trickiest of issues. I'm glad to hear the idea appeals to you!


2006-05-26 01:35:14

There indeed is a Power Song feature, which, I do agree, is a nice touch which I hope finds its way into regular iPod behavior. Thanks for the additional branding information!


2006-05-26 01:36:50

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I am certain the group of people who will purchase that product extends beyond (and does not necessarily overlap with) the two groups both brands have associated with them. Indeed, that's one of the most fascinating aspects of branding if there ever was one!


2006-05-26 01:37:17

I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience.


2006-05-26 01:40:11

Yes, I can imagine a Nike MP3 Player is a rather interesting piece of equipment to own. As far as image goes, I don't see Nike as especially un-classy by any means, although I do have to say their "class" is definitely different from Apple's -- it's a good thing there are about as many images of class as people out there.

The question of course is whether two products, even if they both are best-in-class, are meant to marry. Caddie makes the best shopping carts. Would we be interested in a Caddie+ product? Etc, etc...

Thanks for taking the time to post,

2006-05-26 01:40:53

LOL, now that's an idea! ;-)


2006-05-26 01:42:56
Small Paul,

I'm sure a great many people jog with their iPods. As many have pointed out however, the iPod Shuffle is rather popular in the area, as are other brands of shoes. Hence, the question to me would be whether the partnership as it is unites the right products in the right way.

In any case, I am glad to hear the idea appeals to you! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.


2006-05-26 01:43:22

Happy rocking! :-)


2006-05-26 01:45:10

Some most interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing them! I have no doubt the idea of statistics will appeal to some people to a great extent. The question of course is whether the stats-gathering site will keep on providing these people with the service they expect (something only time will tell) and whether they will be able to re-use this data in a way that is meaningful to them.

I guess it's a rather tough one to answer without witnessing how the site develops and expands over time.

Thanks again,

2006-05-26 01:46:22

Indeed, the sensor being a separate device definitely opens up doors for non-Nike iPod-enabled shoes, provided, of course, patents do not interfere with the plans of other manufacturers.


2006-05-26 01:47:28

Different markets different images I guess. Also, note I wasn't saying "Gangsta" in any demeaning way here, simply a different form of "high end" than what Apple traditionally plays on.

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us!


2006-05-26 01:48:15
Marx Jr.,

Interesting theory. Is there a Nike+ Party I can join? ;-)


2006-05-26 01:50:06
J. Patrick,

I'm glad to hear the idea appeals to you. If I may risk a word of advice, always put your feet first. I'd love to hear your follow-up comments on the product if you purchase it however, as certainly nothing replaces a hands-on experience!


2006-05-26 01:50:48
NB Zealot,

The Shoe Halo effect... A most interesting theory. Thanks for sharing it!


2006-05-26 07:12:07
You are way off base with this again. I said a few days before this came out that Apple would have a great product and this is it. There is no way around the affects this will have on runners. Yes, it is not for everyone. It is for runners and joggers.
2006-05-26 07:54:25

And again, I thank you for taking the time to let me know.


2006-05-26 11:29:09
"When I say "Nike", you think tacky luxury, gangster rap, gold chains, R&B music and new chic."

Funny, but in the U.S., that's the last thing I think of. Adidas, Converse, BK, Sketchers... many other shoe brands are more closely associated, image-wise, with "ganster rap" than Nike. Especially over the past decade, Nike has done a pretty good job marketing itself as a "serious athlete" brand. (I'm personally an Asics running shoe guy, but Nike has great mindshare.

2006-05-27 03:29:26
When I say "Nike", you think tacky luxury, gangster rap, gold chains, R&B music and new chic.

No I don't. I think of sports, world records, tennis champions and Tiger Woods. And even if you are right, Nike sounds (!) like a perfect companion to an iPod.

Tp me, this whole iPod/athleticism combo of two top quality brands sounds like a runaway (!!) success.

2006-08-19 10:08:06
National Marine Engineers Beneficial Association
2007-11-07 11:40:36
To be honest, yes, I've heard but I doubt other people did. :)) And by the way, a car to be 97% it's pretty high, I'm curious what brand..

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