Nike gets it: An operating system for fitness

May 1, 2014 at 11:10 AM
Nike Fitness Platform

Nike+ Fitness Platform

Software is steadily permeating and disrupting every industry in the world, but few companies are grasping it’s implications and even fewer are taking action today to be ahead tomorrow. There is however an example of a company which “gets” where the future is heading and has decided to take action to get there: Nike

Nike is not a software company in the traditional sense of the word but it is becoming one. A clear leader in the fitness band space the company recently decided to fire most of the team that works on it’s Fuel Band product. Some will see this a bad sign for wearables, but by choosing not to focus on hardware but on software instead Nike has shown incredible prescience. Despite having a successful team they decided to disrupt themselves before the market did; Nike will continue to make fitness tracking software but will partner with hardware makers instead to deliver devices, Apple probably being the biggest one.

With rapidly advancing technologies like 3D printing and the steady march of automation I firmly believe that eventually most physical goods and hardware will be extremely cheap, so cheap that it will be worthwhile to give it away when it comes to getting people on your service platform. All companies will have to be software companies in one way or another or at least seriously integrate it. Nike has probably decided to become *the* fitness platform of choice regardless of hardware. They are betting on their software being everywhere with the help of hardware partners. Indeed they have already taken steps towards this by opening up their Nike+ fitness tracking platform to startups.

Sounds like a familiar strategy? It makes complete sense to go beyond hardware and become a platform on which others can build on, innovate and make money. Just like people creating software for platforms like Android or Windows, Nike has decided to become, in so many words, an “operating system” for fitness.

“We are focusing more on the software side of the experience.”
– Mike Parker, Nike CEO  25/4/2014

Nike’s mission:



Turning the tide on music piracy with Big Data

December 21, 2013 at 2:42 PM

The Internet has been disrupting the music industry since the days of Napster more than a decade ago when file-sharing was unleashed in earnest on the world. The major music labels are gasping for breath as they see their traditional business models erode. But there are however other players that are finding creative solutions to turn “pirate” fans into paying customers.

A recent story suggested that Iron Maiden came up with an ingenious solution with the help of some music analytics companies to figure out where in the world their music was being pirated the most and then embark on intensive touring of those locations. The strategy appears to have worked, Iron Maiden has been outperforming the music industry by a wide margin and has made millions of dollars touring Latin America.

BitTorrent traffic can be analyzed extensively along with social media and other digital channels. Gregory Mead, CEO and co-founder of the London-based firm Musicmetric said:

Having an accurate real time snapshop of key data streams is all about helping inform people’s decision making. If you know what drives engagement you can maximize the value of your fan base. Artists could say ‘we’re getting pirated here, let’s do something about it’, or ‘we’re popular here, let’s play a show’.

This is a great example of how Big Data can unlock opportunities for those willing to seek them out with an open mind.

(Via BoingBoing)


Iron Maiden Mexico Tour T-shirt art

Geocities Helped Define Personal Expression on the Web

December 8, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Original Geocities Logo

Original Geocities Logo

My love for the web began with Geocities. One of the first free hosting sites and certainly the most popular one in the mid to late 90s. This massive space of personal expression was the precursor of blogs, social media and other free publishing tools.

I hosted my page in the Area 51 “virtual neighborhood” and used it to learn about and experiment with making webpages, all the while exploring the nascent web and sharing my interests.

Anyone who is familiar with Geocities can attest to the universally gaudy and rudimentary web design that was the norm then (but extremely fun notwithstanding). Only html was supported, in fact you had to know how to code html to make a page. Netscape was the preferred browser and Geocities thrived with the fuel of a new technology beginning to gain broad adoption. The style and utility of the pages was embellished with animated gifs, tiled graphic backgrounds, embedded MIDI music, Guestbooks (which were thrilling), hit countersWebrings and other virtual paraphernalia. Indeed, all manner of digital trinkets were arranged with extreme care and even the “Under Construction” page (prior to actually publishing something) was often as detailed.

Check out some archived Geocities pages and take a trip back to one of the first impacts of the web on society (sadly I have not been able to find mine in the archives).

One thing I have always been fascinated about is how over time it has gotten vastly easier for anyone to have their own space on the web. From tools like Tumblr to platforms like WordPress this trend of people having more powerful tools which are easier and easier to use will continue to detonate human creativity for a long time. After the Geocities experience I opted in favor of hosting my own sites to delve deeper into web development, having thankfully discovered a taste for creating on the web.

90's HTML Goodies was invaluable for building sites!

90’s was invaluable for building sites!

The Technical Insight that made YouTube the dominant video platform

October 17, 2013 at 10:35 PM

I remember back in 2005 when YouTube launched. It wasn’t the only site trying to capitalize on the opportunity of online video, but it won because by following an entrepreneurial “wedge” strategy it solved a widespread and specific problem through a single technological innovation.

Back then there were many competing standards for serving online video which meant that no user had all the different codecs (plugins) installed on their computer to be able to watch videos on every website (not to mention it was a pain to install codecs). This meant that there wasn’t a site that was widely compatible for everyone and this prevented all of them from gaining enough traction to be the “go-to” place for online video. However, there was a very popular plugin which wasn’t used for online video at the time but was the most popular for online multimedia: Flash

Enter Chad, Steve and Jawed with the brilliant idea of encoding and serving all uploaded videos in Flash. Suddenly YouTube exploded because it was a video platform that was compatible for many more people and so much easier to use and share. They were the first ones to do this and thus solved the conundrum of online video.

The rest is history, Google acquired YouTube for $1.6 billion dollars in 2006.

Steve Chen, Chad Hurley

Steve Chen, Chad Hurley