With Apple Watch en route, Apple Stores give Jawbone and Nike Fuelband the boot

Apple keeps whittling down the number of fitness trackers in its retail stores as it makes way for the Apple Watch.

The latest victims are Jawbone's Up24 fitness band and Nike's Fuelband, which have disappeared from Apple Store shelves in several major cities according to Re/code. Apple has also removed a wrist-worn heart rate monitor from Mio, but continues to sell Jawbone's clip-on Up Move fitness tracker.

Last October, Apple also stopped carrying fitness trackers from Fitbit. That news came a week after Fitbit said it wouldn't work with Apple's Health app, opting instead to build out its own platform of connected fitness services.

Besides clearing out potential Apple Watch alternatives, Apple could conceivably have other reasons to thin the herd. Both the Up24 and Nike Fuelband are more than a year old, and Jawbone's Up3 tracker has been delayed indefinitely. And while Nike still sells its Fuelband in other stores, the company is no longer developing new wearable hardware as it shifts its attention to software and services. Perhaps Apple is just looking to reboot its fitness tracker section with newer, more relevant options.

In any case, Apple isn't directly citing the Watch as a motivation. "They said they brought in a new executive in the marketing area who wanted to rework branding for the stores, and to make the Apple brand more front and center and clean up and minimize the number of accessories," Liz Dickinson, Mio's founder and CEO, told Re/code.

Why this matters: Obviously Apple wants to make sure its first smartwatch gains an early foothold. Still, it'd be foolish for Apple to abolish fitness trackers entirely, especially those that can hook into the company's HealthKit framework with data that Apple Watch doesn't collect, such as sleep tracking or built-in GPS. Hopefully the removal of Jawbone and Nike Fuelband are just a sign of Apple taking stock and figuring out the best health tracking devices to offer, rather than clearing out anything that might be considered competition.


Jared Newman

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