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Nike Inc. (NKE) introduced its Nike+ FuelBand, the latest digital device launched by the athletic-goods maker as it continues to tap growing interest among athletes to track their movements.
The Nike+ FuelBand tracks all movements, such as running, dancing or swimming, and can allow users to measure that movement and set personal goals. The Nike+ FuelBand, available for preorder Thursday at a suggested retail price of $149, is water resistant, has a battery life of roughly four days and an internal USB.
Nike, one of the largest sporting-goods makers, already has roots in the digital space and has experience developing products that can be integrated with athletic gear. One of the more well-known efforts was launched in 2006, when Nike disclosed a partnership with Apple Inc. (AAPL) to sell the Nike+ iPod Sport Kit, a wireless system that provided connectivity between footwear and Apple's electronic gadgets.
Nike also sells a GPS-enabled sports watch through a pact with Dutch satellite-navigation company TomTom NV (TOM2.AE). At one point, Nike sold one of the best-selling mp3 music players with electronics company Royal Philips NV (PHG, PHIA.AE).
Nike is aiming to merge the physical world of sport with digital services, said President and Chief Executive Mark Parker, adding that the company has never seen so much opportunity for innovation.
"Data that was once available only to top athletes is now available to athletes of all levels," said Parker.
The splashy launch was hosted by TV talk-show host Jimmy Fallon and included appearances by cyclist Lance Armstrong, track star Carmelita Jeter and basketball star Kevin Durant, who were all wearing the Nike wristbands.
While economic uncertainty has put pressure on Nike's global customer base, the company has continued to post solid growth in footwear and apparel in most countries it serves. Nike benefits from its diverse product offerings that aren't tied to one market, price point or consumer demographic.
Product launches and new innovation features, such as the Nike Free running line and Lunar shoe cushioning, have helped Nike products to remain relevant as consumers are cautious about spending. Nike is in the midst of a strong athletic-footwear cycle that has driven sales for more than two years, and which analysts say typically occurs over a span of three to five years.
Shares were up 0.4% at $101.23 in recent trading.
-By John Kell, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2480; email@example.com