iJog for iPod

How do you value a company that just seems to "get it"? That's my dilemma with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) . On Tuesday, the Mac maker teamed up with Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) to introduce the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. It's got a tiny electronic sensor, designed to slip into a Nike running shoe, that wirelessly transmits fitness information to a receiver plugged into an iPod nano.

My wife says it best: "That's so ... cool!"

Indeed, it is. The system even comes with an endorsement from seven-time Tour de France champ (and Nike endorser) Lance Armstrong, who happens to be boning up for a run at the New York City Marathon -- presumably with Nike shoes and an iPod nano.

I find the technology involved the most impressive part of this deal. Small wireless gear isn't easy to work with. (Seriously, how many times have you wanted to throw your cell phone out the window of your moving car?) It's got to be even more difficult to make it work when it's buried in a shoe, and a lightweight running shoe at that. Yet the kit, which is expected to be available in the next two months, bears a dirt cheap target price of $29.

That doesn't sound like much -- and it isn't, when you consider that Apple has booked more than $17 billion in revenue over the most recent trailing 12 months. Still, Nike has four million iPod-ready shoes available now, and according to BusinessWeek, that total could soon grow to 10 million. That's an immediately addressable market of up to $290 million on kits alone for Apple.

But of course, that's not where the real opportunity lies. Jobs & Co. need to give consumers excuses to buy more and different versions of the iPod, especially now that there are roughly 50 million of the devices already in consumers' hands. Creating specialized uses for the iconic music player is one way to do so. In that sense, I believe the "Nike+" program will likely be the first of many similar partnerships.

That has me wondering: Is Apple's stock really expensive? The company excels at marketing. It earns the highest customer-service marks in the computer industry. Its products are almost always technically astute. And its business model is so good that competitors are copying it. Just how successful does Apple have to be before we agree that it's cheap?

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Fool contributorTim Beyersnow laments that he bought his wife a video iPod for Christmas. Whoops. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out which stocks he owns by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.


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