While it is common knowledge that Apple is facing a barrage of complaints over issues regarding the new iPhone there is a little war against the Cupertino giant that is currently being waged on another front and while it might not be as high profile as the former case it has certainly irked a dedicated community of users.
In 2006 Apple teamed up with Nike to introduce the Nike+iPod system. A device for runners (and walkers) that linked a small accelerometer with the 2nd and 3rd generation iPod Nano and allowed individuals to record their endeavors, challenge their own personal times and also using a site provided by Nike challenge other participants to “races”.
It has proven to be a pretty effective system, using your own music and the built in “coach” voices of the Nike+ system is a definite motivational tool and has been one of the key factors as to why I no longer drive and take public transport only when it is absolutely necessary. It has also proven to be popular as well, the fact that it’s relatively inexpensive to setup if you already own an iPod has meant that people who might have been put off by more expensive systems readily took up the challenge.
In 2008 Apple integrated the Nike+ system into the 2nd generation iTouch and in 2009 the 3GS iPhone. On the Nano the software to control the Nike+ experience was pretty solid and problems were minimal. Yet as my Nano aged the battery life became so poor it spent most of its time on charge so I decided to upgrade to an iTouch, and that folks is where my problems began.
The software on the iTouch certainly took advantage of the larger screen estate and for the most part worked pretty well, there was the odd foible here and there but knowing that iOS 4 was round the corner I figured that Apple and Nike would between them iron out any bugs that were hiding in the software.
Seems I was wrong…
For the Nike+ community who use the iPhone or the iTouch as part of their kit, the latest software upgrade has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. A quick trip to the Nikerunning community pages displays a list of complaints as long as a very long arm with people having difficulty linking their sensors to their iPods, workout distances being recorded incorrectly (or in my case not at all) and a host of other problems.
There is a Nike employee in the midst the melee attempting to look after an ever growing list of complaints to be passed on to Apple. There’s also confidence that the problems will be resolved pretty quickly. Personally however I’m dubious that this matter will be resolved any time soon.
Here’s why I think that might be the case, I suspect rolling out a patch for the Nike+ system would involve releasing a whole new version of iOS4 (I’m not a programmer so I may be incorrect on this, I’m not stating it as fact). I also suspect Apple’s teams are more entrenched with dealing with the new iPhone issues at the moment so a bunch of disgruntled runners probably aren’t their priority.
Another factor in the grand scheme of things could be the fact that despite an installed user base the Nike+ community might not represent that many iTouch/iPhone users. At present Apple is hungrily drawing revenue from so many other iPod/app sources, if they lose this comparatively small one…well so what. It would fit quite nicely with elements of Apple’s recent “fuck you” attitude in other areas.
That for me is why if you’re serious about training and you want to monitor your workouts whether that be running or walking it might just be time to get off the Apple treadmill and go elsewhere looking for a solution.
Of course nothing would delight me more than for Apple/Nike to prove me wrong so why don’t they, to coin a phrase “Just Do It”?