Wearables are hard. Some of the biggest names in technology have tried and failed to find success in the space, and even those that have become synonymous with the category have struggled to keep up. Adidas is only the latest company to learn this lesson the hard way.
As first reported late last week, the shoe maker is shuttering its digital sports organization and reshuffling the remainder of its digital efforts. We’ve since confirmed the restructuring with a spokesperson for the company, who offered up a fairly corporate-speak heavy take on the news.
“To further drive our digital transformation and win the consumer in this dynamic business environment, we’ve redefined our strategic approach toward digital, sharpening our focus on digital experiences,” the company said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “We will discontinue running a stand-alone digital sports organization and consolidate the adidas app eco-system, focusing our efforts on two powerful brand platforms: Runtastic and the adidas App. We are integrating digital across all areas of our business and will continue to grow our digital expertise in a more integrated way.”
Late last year, the company appeared to have abandoned its dreams of a standalone sport watch, telling Wareable at the time, “We’re not going to see a new running watch from Adidas for a while.” As promised, additional devices were planned, including the Chameleon fitness tracker, which was more in line with a screenless Fitbit device. Adidas isn’t weighing in on specifics here, but this move does appear to, at best, put those sorts of products in limbo, moving forward.
Of course, earlier this year, the company was announced as a partner for Fitbit’s new Ionic smartwatch. While that device arrived to mixed reviews, that sort of deal is beneficial to both parties. It gives Fitbit another high-profile partner for the device, brings another SKU to the market and provides Adidas with a platform for the digital services it’s still focused on growing.
It’s the kind of partnership that’s proven fruitful for Nike in the past, with longstanding partnerships with companies like Apple. As for what the refocusing will mean for the employees currently working on the wearable side of things at Adidas, a spokesperson for the company told Women’s Wear Daily, “I don’t know that ‘layoff’ is the right word[…]hopefully finding them other places in the organization.”