Nike+ Accelerator Program to Drive Digital Business Innovation in Sports

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Nike (NYSE: NKE) announced its first Nike+ Accelerator program that aims to leverage the success of the Nike+ platform to support digital innovation by connecting with companies that share Nike’s commitment to help people live more active lives. It will host ten companies for a three-month immersive, mentor-driven startup accelerator powered by TechStars.

TechStars’ mentoring model has attracted more than $275 million worth of venture capital for the companies that have participated in past programs over the last six years of operation. Visit for details and applications. The application deadline is February 3, 2013.

Marketingweek elaborates:

Nike says the initiative aims to nurture the “next generation” of innovative ideas on the Nike+ platform and it is hoped the move will lead to more applications launched on the fitness tracking platform in the future. The business has been pushing technology in health and fitness through its Nike+ running app and more recently its Nike+ FuelBand. reports that “the Nike+ Accelerator begins in March 2013 and will run through June, culminating in technology investor demonstration days including a day at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and a day in California's Silicon Valley.

The Nike+ Accelerator will accept applications from companies aiming to use Nike+ technology to create products and services that will inspire athletes across a broad range of activity and health goals including training, coaching, gaming, data visualization and quantified self.”

Brand utility
In this article, we elaborated that digital capabilities are a fundamental building block with which companies can transform customer experience, operational processes and business models. What Nike is trying to achieve is a new way to innovate and expand its business models, facilitate society a healthier lifestyle and further diffuse the brand in people's daily lives.

This is a great example of Brand Utility, an overarching concept focused on providing meaningful marketing that improves people’s lives and adds value to the user.

As Benjamin Palmer of the Barbarian Group puts it and is in line with the above:

“[Branded Utility] is where the brand creates a commitment to a relationship. It’s where the brand creates something useful to you, something that’s a utility in your life. The consumer will feel more confident with the relationship if the brand will continue to be part of your life.”

Wireless mHealth devices market
Nike anticipates on a broader trend, the one of the upcoming mHealth market. A slew of new devices leveraging improved connectivity to mobile handsets have fueled strong growth for wearable wireless mHealth devices in 2012 according to ABI Research. This is where Nike can expand its investments in, if the brand utility approach is successful.

The inclusion of Bluetooth Smart Ready connectivity in many smartphones including Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy III, is driving a new wave of interest and investment in the capabilities of wearable sensoring devices. Between 2011 and 2017 the market for these devices will grow at a CAGR of nearly 40%. And this is important, without big platforms such as Apple, Samsung and Google, wearable sensoring devices are just geeky hardware. Wearables will move mainsteam once they get serious investments from the big platforms.

Apple's iOS ecosystem has already inspired a host of wearable accessories, like the Lark sleep sensor and now-discontinued Jawbone UP. But Google's open Android platform will inspire broader experimentation for entire wearable solutions. Android is already the platform of choice for Foxconn-funded startup WIMM Labs as well as the Sony SmartWatch.

Existing wearable wireless sports and wireless vendors, such as specialist high-end vendors such as Polar and Garmin (NASDAQ: GRMN) (Forerunner 305), but also others such as Nike (Nike+FuelBand) and Adidas Adizero F50 have all expanded their wearable wireless sensor offerings during 2012 while a host of start-ups have come to market with offerings extending the use and potential of collected data and how it can be used. The collected data is interesting to fuel further innovation, more personalized experiences and a becoming a true part of one’s life and continuous revenue streams for the provider.

For the specialist high-end vendors such as Garmin and Polar, an increase in competitiveness will arise from non-specialist competitors such as mobile handset vendors, consumer electronics companies and online service providers. These have a broader scope that could benefit from the data collection and benefit from it through many other ways. This could increase loyalty due to the aforementioned "becoming a true part of one's life."

GLCuccureddu has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Nike. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple and Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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