Now this is a truly differentiated product innovation. Nike and Apple have joined forces to create Nike+iPod. A small sensor is placed in a special holder under the sole of your Nikes and sends a signal to your iPod Nano with information such as time, distance and even calories burnt. You can get audio updates of progress during your run, and even select that heavy-metal anthem as your 'power song' to provide an extra energy boost when needed. Then when you get back you can connect your iPod to your PC and download the data into a personalised Nike+ website where you can manage your runs, and progress versus personal goals. And then there is special Nike + apparel, such as t-shirts with built-in armbands for your iPod.
This innovation wins my vote on several counts:
1. This is not just image building, it will drive business for both brands. I for one am off to the Nike store pronto to get kitted up.
2. The innovation also creates 'stickiness' for both brands. The Nike+ website that tracks your runs will become a 'destination' site for users. And you're are less likely to ditch your iPod Nano for another MP3 player if its an integral part of your fitness routine.
3. The brand fit is fantastic, reinforcing the shared values of personal creativity, freedom of expression and cutting-edge innovation.
4. Its based on real insight into running and the interaction between music and sport.
Finally, isn't it frightening how far and how fast the Sony Walkman has fallen, as the iPod has risen? When Nike were thinking about this project there was one and only one brand that will have been at the top of their wish-list, and it wasn't Sony.
Other votes for product innovation of the month?
5 minute workout: which brand could you create an alliance with to develop a game-chaging product innovation like Nike+iPod?