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The company has its sights set on leading with software, making its FuelBand and smartwatch efforts that much more peripheral to delivering on what those devices were meant to facilitate in the first place: a Nike ecosystem that starts with the apps on your phone and ends with the shoes on your feet and the shirt on your back. Now that smartphones can do much of the intensive tracking these devices used to do exclusively, it's no longer necessary to have a fitness tracker to remain relevant in wearables. Take, for instance, not only Nike+ Move, but also fast-growing communities like MapMyFitness, which was purchased by Under Armour last year for $150 million.

"What these type of activity tracker devices do is solve one of the big problems that brands have, which is how do you engage with an individual in a personal x r iphone cases way," said Credit Suisse analyst Christian Buss, who follows Nike, "It's different than just building a brand preference, 'This is your activity partner.' That's a very different relationship."To that end, Nike likely sees its proprietary workout measurement metric, NikeFuel, and a fitness lifestyle brand built around it as more valuable than the chance to sell consumers a $150 device that hardly moves the needle on Nike's $27 billion in annual sales..

The FuelBand was never meant to be a meaningful driver of earnings for Nike, or a long term leader in the wearable market, said Piper Jaffray's Naughton. "They have this tremendous network of consumers and this community they've developed. That's where the power is. That's where all of the value is," Naughton said. 'Understanding that customer, building that trust, being able to understand what he or she is looking for based on the activity he or she is doing."Nothing sends a stronger signal of Nike's refocused software efforts than the Nike+ Fuel Lab. The testing space, which opened today in San Francisco, will let partners -- starting with workout app RunKeeper, performance tracking platform Strava, and fitness app MyFitnessPal -- develop products that incorporate the company's NikeFuel system. The company will be making the Nike+ API available this fall to any developer interested in creating something for that ecosystem.

Nike's vice president of digital sport, Stefan Olander, said the initiative will balloon the Nike+ user base to 100 million, If Apple releases a smartwatch, a fitness tracker, or a combination of both, Nike could be the first in line for a partnership, Released eight years ago, the Nike+iPod Sports Kit -- which included a small tracker that fit into your Nike shoes and talked with an iPod cradled in a Nike-made armband -- still has a dedicated page on Apple's Web site, The tracker itself sells for $19, a $10 drop from what it originally retailed x r iphone cases for in May 2006..

Nike, whose preeminent brand is valued at $17.3 billion last year according to the Forbes Fab 40 brand rankings, packs as powerful a marketing punch for Apple as the iPhone maker does for the Nike+ platform. "Apple is in the hardware business. Nike is in the sneaker business. I don't think Apple sees Nike as competitive. It's likely that an Apple hardware offering would be supportive of the Nike software," Duffy said. "Nike would be content to let Apple sell devices as long as they would be supportive of the apps."It's long been rumored that Nike and Apple, thanks to Cook's position on Nike's board, have kept the FuelBand an iOS exclusive due to a kind of handshake agreement. Nike has discounted that assumption.

Olander, Nike's VP of digital sports, said, in x r iphone cases an interview with The Next Web in October, that the fragmented ecosystem around Google's software has put an Android FuelBand app on the backburner while Nike focused on quality over scale, "We have nothing against Android, we're not prohibited from doing it, we just want to make sure that when we do it, it works well," he explained, FuelBand fans waiting for an Android-compatible version will, no doubt, be disappointed if Nike does bow out of the device market, But Nike could now focus on shifting to a software-centric approach to wearables, a space in which its core apps already support iOS and Android devices..

"Does Nike become more software-oriented? Definitely yes," Duffy said. "The objective for them is to build as large a community for them as possible.""They're not looking to become a gadget company. Their primary focus is to continue to make athletes better. Selling more performance footwear, lifestyle footwear, apparel, and to the lesser degree some equipment products," Naughton added. "Ultimately, the Nike+ community is really where they're building those connections with consumers."Update, 7:40 p.m. April 10: Clarified that Nike declined to provide a comment regarding the story.

Case in point, the last concept I featured here, which touted an iPhone 6 with a holographic screen, Hovering a little closer to reality, but still dodging other slices of pie in the sky, is this interesting concept from Sahanan Yogarasa that imagines a superthin iPhone 6 with a slide-out second screen that's optimal for gaming, This idea gets simultaneously filed under both "awesome" and "too good to be true anytime soon."The opportunity to double screen space without increasing how much room the phone takes up in my pocket? Yes, please, The notion that this can be done while also making the next iPhone slimmer than ever before (and with both 4K display and x r iphone cases video capture, to boot)? Not this year..