Apple Hires Blahnik From Nike, All but Confirming Smartwatch Plans

Apple, which is rumored to be developing a watch and has praised Nike's FuelBand, has hired a key player behind the device Jay Blahnik.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn't officially confirmed that the iPhone maker is working on a watch, but on the topic of wearables he's enthusiastically complimented Nike on the job it did with its FuelBand. Now, Apple has hired one of the key players responsible for the FuelBand, Jay Blahnik.

IT Portal reported the news Aug. 20, saying that Blahnik confirmed he'd been lured away from Nike, where he'd also helped create impressively large communities of digital users.

"It is true!" Blahnik Tweeted, in response to a question about whether he had in fact left Nike. Blahnik added that the opportunity is "wonderful and exciting" and signed off with "#Applewins."

A bio for Blahnik describes him as an award-winning fitness instructor, expert and consultant.

"Jay has been a Nike Elite Athlete and Nike consultant for almost 20 years," it continues. "He worked closely with Nike on the launch of Nike+Running, which has become the largest digital running community in the world. He was also the original creator and program developer of the Nike Training Club App, and the Nike Training club in-gym program, which boasts over 6 million digital users. He is also a key expert and consultant for many of Nike's new Digital Sport initiatives that launched in 2012, including Nike+Kinect Training and Nike+Fuelband."

Apple's Smart Watch

At an AllThingsD conference in May, Tim Cook called the wearable device market "ripe for exploration" and added that the better products tend to be the ones that focus on one thing and do it well, rather than trying to address several things and ultimately doing a mediocre job.

Cook, who is a member of Nike's board, said that he wears the Nike FuelBand, adding, "Nike did a great job with this."

Cook also said he found the wrist to be an easier sell to consumers than glasses, calling it a "more natural" way to accessorize, but added that the entire wearables industry is primed for growth.

"The whole sensor field is going to explode," Cook said. "It's a little all over the place right now, but [with time] it will become clearer."

Still, Cook didn't confirm that Apple is working on a smart watch.

Apple rival Samsung, however, has offered such confirmation, and is now rumored to be planning a big reveal Sept. 4, days ahead of a major tech trade show in Berlin, IFA. If still additional rumors hold, the Samsung watch will also arrive just days ahead of Apple's planned introduction of its newest iPhones.

According to reports, Apple is planning to host an event in San Francisco Sept. 10.

Smart watches from Apple and Samsung will have plenty of competition—nearly every major tech brand has admitted to having such a device in the works, and so do many lesser-known brands.

Kreyos recently blew past its stated fundraising goal of $100,000 on Indiegogo, finishing its campaign Aug. 12 with $1.5 million in pledged donations.

The company's Meteor watch is said to be compatible with the iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8 platforms, and the only smart watch to offer full voice and gesture control. It's also water-resistant, has a 1.26-inch inch display and can store data to the cloud. At $169, it's also one of the less-expensive offerings currently on the market.

On Aug. 19, another company crossed its fingers for similar success, introducing the Androidly Smartwatch—which features a phone, a 2-megapixel camera, WiFi, GPS, a USB port and access to the Google Play store—with the goal of raising $100,000 on Indiegogo.

"It's fascinating to see and do on your wrist what one could only do on larger and cumbersome devices until now," the company says in its campaign. "It's an experience which was just not available before Androidly."