Nike to Android: Get Running with Bluetooth LE

Nike Fuels Bluetooth LE
Nike Fuels Bluetooth LE

In a swipe at Android device makers, Nike claims that a lack of consistent Bluetooth LE support is holding back app support for its FuelBand line of products. Pocket-lint reports:

“In a candid chat with the VP… he expressed the usual frustrations many developer claim to have; that there are too many variations of Android devices to deliver a consistent offering across all of them….

When asked whether that meant a deal with Samsung or HTC could be on the cards, Olander failed to answer the question but suggested that it wasn’t about reach, but about working with companies that get what Nike are trying to achieve when it comes to the experience, something that Apple already gets.

The comments are pretty wide open for interpretation. One of the myths about Bluetooth LE is that it’s somehow an “Apple” technology – its secret retail super weapon and NFC killer.

How Much Support Does Bluetooth LE Really Have on Android Phones?
But Android supports Bluetooth LE and hardware to back it up can be found in popular models of Samsung’s Galaxy, LG and HTC One phones. So it might not be a technical barrier that’s holding Nike back although I wonder whether Apple’s M7 Motion Sensors offers battery-friendly processing power that Nike feels it needs.

Nike’s current decision not to support Android might be a combination of technology, reach, marketing clout and cross-promotion. I don’t even own a Nike product, for example, but they show up on my phone regardless.

It might be a kind of hint they’re dropping to the big manufacturers – a “let’s make a deal” which they figured they’d pop into a news story. Or maybe VP Stefan Olander was simply grasping for an explanation when asked the question.

Closed vs Open, Small vs Big
But on some level there’s no doubt he’s onto a larger point: because while Apple has a relatively tight ecosystem of hardware and software to power a generation of iBeacons and Bluetooth LE devices, Android supports a more fractured landscape of devices and APIs….one that can leave even companies like Nike scratching their head on how to tackle the largest phone market out there while staying consistent in the user experience.

But what’s your take? Is Android ready for Bluetooth LE fitness apps and devices? Or is this a marketing pitch from Nike for ‘favored nation’ support?

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