If Apple Really Is Doing An 'iWatch,' It's A Huge Conflict Of Interest For Tim Cook


tim cook

Photo by Don Feria/Apple via Getty Images

Tim Cook, wearing a FuelBand

Apple reportedly working on a wearable computing device, which we're calling an "iWatch."


If these reports are accurate — and frankly it would be weird if Apple wasn't at least exploring the idea — then it's a problem for CEO Tim Cook.

Cook is on the board of Nike which has its own sort of digital watch/wearable computer, the Nike FuelBand. The Nike FuelBand measures your steps, gives you an estimate of calories burned, tells time, and measures Nike's made up "Fuel Points."

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The FuelBand is supposed to track your fitness and get you exercising more.

Right now, it's a very rudimentary gadget. In the years to come as the product evolves, it will do much more. Look at the first iPod compared to the iPod Touch today, if you need to get an idea about how a simple product can grow over time.


Now, let's think about what an iWatch could do. Could it have fitness tracking applications? You better believe it. Would anyone need two devices like a FuelBand and an iWatch if one gets the job done? Probably not.

This is where it will get tricky for Cook. Apple's iWatch, which is largely theoretical right now, would probably end up competing with Nike's FuelBand. If Cook is sitting on Nike's board as it's developing the roadmap for the FuelBand, while at the same time Apple is developing an iWatch, then he's getting an inside look at what works and what doesn't for a gadget you wear.

As MG Siegler recently pointed out, it's not too different from Google's CEO Eric Schmidt sitting on Apple's board as it developed the iPad and iPhone. While he was listening to Apple talk about the iPhone, Google was developing Android, which would become the number one threat to Apple's iPhone business.

The FuelBand isn't as important to Nike's business as the iPhone is to Apple's business. But there's no way Cook should be getting information about how to make Apple's wearable computer better than the FuelBand as a board member.

We reached out to Nike for comment, but it just said it's not going to talk about rumors or speculation.