Nike has made significant changes to its market leading running app, Nike+, and loyal long-term users are less than impressed. Choosing to reinvent the app as the Nike+ Run Club, was a bizarre move for one of the most lauded applications in the world – and has left pundits wondering why the sports giant chose to mess with a winning formula.
Firstly, Nike chose to remove the ability for users to interact with each other, and reach certain benchmarks. Trophies and Challenges have now been removed in favour of… nothing. The sense of accomplishment welcoming users as they crossed an invisible finish line has been taken away, along with the ability to easily share the result on social media, which is now apparently less important than sharing within the “Club”
The most bizarre removal however was the coaching component, which was taken from existing users without warning. This means, if you were in the middle of training for your first marathon, and were using the Nike+ app to manage your performance, now you are not. However, Nike says it is not abandoning those who were using the coaching module, and that they can now download their history, not through a clever adaptive program – but as a PDF.
The reasons for this move are very apparent, as Nike attempts to create it’s own online platform, separate from other social entities, such as Facebook. The implementation, however, leaves a lot to be desired, and users have been scathing in their reviews of the new system. Nike+ Run Club currently has two stars in the App Store, which incredibly is up from 1.3 when it was first launched.
Nike, the marketing rock star, forgot the golden rule of creating a brand people can be feel ownership for – once it’s out in the world, you no longer own it, it belongs to the users and you can forget that at your peril.
The door is now open for competition, and we can expect an aggressive marketing season from other apps, and development around synchronicity with Facebook, Twitter and others.

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