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Friday, April 11, 2008, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Nike+ on its way to iPhone and iPod touch

The Nike+ Sport Kit released two years ago for use exclusively with Apple's iPod nano digital music player is finally getting an upgrade that will see support extended to iPhone and iPod touch.

Word of the update comes by way of Stuff.tv's Mark Wilson, who picked up the tip during a tour of Nike's Beaverton, Oregon-based headquarters, in which he also got to check out distinct pieces of footwear the shoemaker has crafted for each of the 32 Summer Olympic sports.

"The first piece of news is that Nike+ will definitely be extending its compatibility beyond the iPod Nano to the iPhone and iPod Touch," he wrote. "No surprise there really, but the interesting detail is that it could also make use of both devices Wi-Fi (and, ultimately for the iPhone, 3G capability) to let you update your training log on the fly."

With the existing version of the kit, runners must first return to their Mac or PC, dock their iPod nano, launch iTunes, and then push their latest performance data to the Nike+ website. But with the new application written for the iPhone and iPod touch — presumably via Apple's iPhone SDK — runners will be able to beam that data to the website wirelessly the instant they complete their workout.

The wireless feature is said to be particularly suited for use with Nike+ Coach, a new feature of the Nike+ website launched this week that simulates the experiencing of having a personal trainer schedule training runs based around the Sport Kit's 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon programs.

Launched in May of 2006, the $30 Nike + iPod Sport Kit for the iPod nano immediately became a runaway success, selling over 450,000 units in less than 90 days. Since then, it's believed Nike and Apple have gone on to sell millions more.

In fact, the response was so overwhelming that by early 2007 Nike said that it had sold over 3 million Nike+ compatible running shoes and as a result would build support for the iPod technology into every single pair of running shoes by the end of 2007.



Recently, however, a couple of revelations have raised questions about the success of the Nike + iPod franchise going forward. In October, AppleInsider noted that Nike and Apple were jointly hit with a lawsuit over the technology, one seemingly of considerable merit.

In the 8-page complaint, a Utah-based athletic company alleged that it had patented similar technology in 1998 and then pitched a license to Nike two years later. According to the suit, the shoemaker sternly denied interest only to come to market with the same concept under the Nike+ moniker six years later.

Still, the largest threat to the performance-gauging technology may be Apple itself, which as AppleInsider exclusively revealed last month, is developing its own full-fledged digital lifestyle fitness companion that's far more functional and feature-rich than the Nike+ offerings.