The Nike+ FuelBand hit the market yesterday, and I was fortunate enough to get in on one of the limited preorders that the athletic footwear and apparel giant held in anticipation of Wednesday's release.
A $149 bracelet may seem like a ludicrous indulgence, but the high-tech wristband does more than you probably think.
The mobile health gadget records daily physical activity through a three-axis accelerometer, measuring steps taken, calories burned, and a proprietary metric called Nike Fuel. The latch doubles as a USB port for easy charging, and the device syncs with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhones through Bluetooth for the detailed tracking that's also available through Nike's own website.
The goal is to encourage a more active lifestyle by encouraging vigorous activities. Why take the elevator when you're just two flights of stairs away? Join your neighbors in that elusive game of hoops. Drive to the multiplex that's five blocks away? Bah!
I'm bummed to learn that I burned just 47 calories in the past hour, but no one said that typing was a good cardio workout.
Only the Sony
The FuelBand isn't the only tech gadget vying for attention with yesterday's release. Sony (NYSE: SNE ) also hit the market with its PlayStation Vita, the long-overdue update to its handheld system.
Priced at $249 -- or $299 for the 3G model -- the device appears to have priced out all but hardcore gamers. That should be a big enough market to support the platform, though developers may see it differently. It's probably not a good sign that sales tanked in Japan after a strong initial week of sales.
I'm not the ideal market for the Vita, but even my two teenage boys don't seem to care. Times change. Even the 3DS purchased last year is usually collecting dust. The Sony PSP has been missing for ages, and nobody seems bent on finding it.
Apple hasn't helped Sony, obviously. Sure, there's a big difference between cheap apps and full-blown handheld video games. However, judging by Zynga's (Nasdaq: ZNGA ) success at a time when video game industry sales have been falling for three years, casual gamers matter.
There are now 240 million monthly active users through Zynga's network of social networking and mobile games. How many of those do you think will be springing $249 for a Vita?
Make it count
Is Nike one of the three American companies set to dominate the world? The answer is in a free report, so check it out now.