Nike has reportedly fired most of its FuelBand team and is getting out of the hardware business

Nike has let go most of the members of its FuelBand wearables unit and will stop developing new versions of the device, according to a report by CNET. The tech news site quoted an unnamed person “familiar with the matter” as saying that the firm has laid off 70 to 80 percent of its 70-person hardware division and will not produce a new version of the FuelBand, but will continue to sell the existing version. Some industry observers believe Nike has decided to align itself with Apple, which is expected to launch an iWatch or other wearable device that might run Nike’s Fuel software. Apple CEO Tim Cook is a member of Nike’s board.

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Nike Fires Majority of FuelBand Team, Plans to Stop Making Wearables

Nike plans to cease making wearable hardware, as it has fired the majority of its 80-person team responsible for the FuelBand fitness tracker. Instead, the company will focus its efforts on fitness software, according to an unnamed source that spoke to CNET.
The shoemaker isn't throwing in the towel on technology. Rather, it's turning away from hardware and realigning its focus exclusively on fitness and athletic software, a strategic shift that would still benefit the company in the long run, analysts said.
As the competition in the fitness wearable category has increased with entries from Jawbone and Fitbit, Nike has opted to shift its focus to software. Company spokesman Brian Strong told CNET in an email that Nike continually aligns its resources with business priorities and that it has made changes to its team as its Digital Sport priorities had shifted. Nike is also opening an incubator called Fuel Lab in San Francisco to allow developers to create products that incorporate its workout metric NikeFuel and plug into a Nike+ API that'll come this fall.

Nike's move away from wearables also comes as Apple's long-rumored iWatch is expected to come to fruition. Apple CEO Tim Cook is an avid wearer of the FuelBand and has sat on the Nike board for the last nine years, which has helped the two brands foster a strong relationship.

A possible partnership between Apple and Nike wouldn't be out of the question as the athletic company was one of the first to show support for the iPhone 5s' motion coprocessor, debuting the Nike+ Move app alongside the iPhone 5s at Apple's media event. Apple also helped Nike enter the wearable market in 2006 with the Nike+iPod shoe package.

Apple has also hired former members of the Nike's Digital Sport team, picking up former FuelBand consultant Jay Blahnik last August and Nike design director Ben Shaffer last September.

Apple is expected to release the iWatch later this year alongside iOS 8 and the iPhone 6.

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Beats Music updated with subscriptions via in-app purchase, Facebook friend search, and a lot more

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Beats Music for iOS was updated today to version 1.0.7, but don’t let the minor version number bump fool you: this update has a lot of new stuff, including an entirely new subscription model, packed in.

The biggest news in this update is the option to purchase a subscription directly from the iTunes Store through an in-app purchase. Previously users had to add the Beats Music service to their carrier phone bill in order to enjoy the full feature set, such as on-demand streaming music and downloads.

Also new in this update, the app now features thousands of new songs in “The Sentence,” which is the app’s custom music shuffler for users on the free plan. A new “artist offers” section lets users find music and merchandise from specific artists.

A few new social features are included in the new update, including the ability to search for your Facebook friends and add them on this service, as well as improved management of connected social services like Twitter and Facebook.

Finally, offline playback and music downloads have been improved, bugs have been squashed in the music player, and other issues have been remedied.

You can grab the Beats Music app and use “The Sentence” playback for free by downloading it from the App Store. A monthly subscription to unlock on-demand playback is $9.99 via in-app purchase. You can find the complete 1.0.7 change log below:

What’s New in Version 1.0.7

You asked for it, and we listened! Some highlights in this release include:

● In-app subscription and account management via your iTunes account
● Find Your Friends — find and follow your Facebook friends on Beats Music
● Improved Facebook and Twitter account management
● Thousands of new tracks available in The Sentence
● Artist Offers — discover new content and merchandise from your favorite artists
● Offline Mode & Downloading improvements
● Music Player performance fixes

and much, much more!

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