updated 09:13 am EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Companies could work together to combat Apple-Nike relationship
Samsung could partner up with sports clothing producer Under Armour in order to take on the wearables market, according to a report. Lee Jae Yong, son of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun Hee and heir to the Samsung Group, is said to have talked to Under Armour Founder and Chief Executive Kevin Plank earlier this month, with Apple's relationship with Nike apparently central to discussions.
Yonhap News claims the two talked about countering the Nike-Apple collaboration in wearable devices, one which Nike CEO Mark Parker previously said he was "excited" about. While keeping quiet about the partnership, Parker's comments came after Nike fired a large number of staff from its Digital Sport division who worked on hardware, suggesting the company was moving away from hardware and into a software role.
Nike and Apple have enjoyed a comfortable relationship for a number of years, most prominently through the Nike+iPod initiative. While the company's FuelBand fitness tracker is a prominent device in wearables, it was recently only supported on iOS, with Nike taking two years to release an Android version of its companion app.
Samsung Gear Fit
Both Samsung and Under Armour have an interest in keeping Apple and Nike's collaborative projects from being dominant. Samsung sells a number of devices with heart rate monitors, including its Gear 2 and Gear Fit wearables, and its Android Wear device. Last year, Under Armour took a major step into the fitness technology market by acquiring MapMyFitness for $150 million, giving it a collection of fitness apps and data on over 20 million users from more than 400 different fitness trackers. At the time, Plank claimed he wanted to use the new acquisition to "serve as a destination for the measurement and analytics needs of all athletes."
It is possible the two companies could be planning to share their expertise on fitness app data with each other. Samsung launched an initiative which would use a variety of sensors to monitor the wearer of a device, with recorded data being stored on Samsung's cloud platform, SAMI. Samsung billed the SAMI platform as an "agnostic data broker," allowing apps to store and retrieve data combined from multiple sources, and in turn opening the door to more thorough app-based assessments of users. Under Armour's app teams will certainly be able to help in this field, if not by directly sharing customer data.