Will Nike's Magista Really Change the Game?

Last week, athletic footwear, apparel, and accessories maker Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) introduced its newest soccer boot, the Magista. With a radical new design and numerous enhancements, the company expects the boot to revolutionize the athletic footwear category as it pertains to soccer. A successful showing for the Magista has rather large implications for Nike, so it warrants a closer look.

Source: Company Facebook

What is Magista?
The Magista soccer boot has all of the traditional benefits of a regular soccer boot, with some additional benefits thrown in for good measure, but it fits like a sock. The boot conforms to the shape of the player's foot in the same way that a sock does, which provides added maneuverability and comfort.

The Magista includes additional benefits such as its Nike Flyknit upper sole, which 'provides closer ball feel and touch', as well as rotational ability which allows for 360 degrees of rotational traction via a 'Pebax nylon plate with conical stud pattern.' 

Nike has established a reputation for placing the most advanced technologies in its footwear and the Magista does not differ in that regard. The company claims that it developed the boot with the help and feedback of some of the leading offensive soccer players in the game today.

The company's statement read, "Born from four years of R&D in the NIKE sport research lab and with feedback from some of the world's best attacking playmakers, including Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and German forward Mario Gotze, the Magista is designed to enable devastating creativity in a game where space is at a premium." 

Players' reactions to the boot have been nothing short of fantastic for Nike. Thiago Silva of Paris Saint-Germain called Magista "fantastic" and Arda Turan of Athletico Madrid called it "futuristic." Watch the video below for more player responses.

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Why it matters
The Magista soccer boot matters for several reasons. First, it allows Nike to show off its innovative prowess on the global stage. With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil beginning on June 12, the Magista has arrived at the perfect time. Even though Nike already has a global-leading position in athletic footwear, the World Cup offers the largest truly international stage. Nike has set itself up to win over new consumers with its Magista boot.

Secondly, as the leader in the footwear space, it remains imperative for Nike to remain ahead of competition like the smaller and more aggressively growing Under Armour (NYSE: UA  ) . A flagship product like the Magista offers a way for Nike to remind consumers that it still leads the market and that the company will not contently rest on its prior achievements.

While the company has still struggled to make an impression in the massive footwear market, management at Under Armour appears to have finally found the right path to growth in the market: making a great sneaker!

By most measures the company has created a great product in its new Apollo Speedform. Judging by the numerous reviews and my own personal experience, the Apollo Speedform running shoe serves as a worthy adversary to Nike's offerings in the coveted segment. Runners World recently awarded the shoe 'Best Debut' in the popular publication's 2014 Spring Shoe Guide. 

The Apollo Speedform also shares a basic characteristic with Nike's Magista, namely that the sneaker molds to the contours of the athlete's foot. Under Armour has accomplished this in several ways that include a 3-D molded heel cup, an anatomical molded vamp, and an anatomically shaped outsole with natural flex grooves. 

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Bottom line
The Magista soccer boot is a big deal for Nike in several ways. First, that the boot appears truly capable of changing the way that players play soccer on the professional level, and when this occurs on a global stage like the World Cup it only reinforces Nike's dominance in the minds of consumers and strengthens the company's control of the international market.

Secondly, Magista reminds competitors like Under Armour that Nike, as the undisputed king of athletic footwear, will not contently let its foot off the throttle. Even with aggressive plans of attack, competitors like Under Armour will not easily catch up to Nike in footwear on the global stage.

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