I think anyone who actually admits to enjoying running can legitimately call themselves a runner. A few years ago, I would have never called myself a runner. An iPod and Nike+ changed that.
Nike+ is a sensor system created by Nike and Apple that works with an iPod and the Nike+ website to track a runner’s data – distance, pace, caloric burn and more – over time. According to this 2009 Wired article, Nike, through Nike+, has gathered the largest community of runners ever assembled — more than 1.2 million runners who have collectively tracked more than 130 million miles and burned more than 13 billion calories. And those are last year’s numbers.
Amassing loads of data has uncovered interesting running stats. Like that people in the US run more often in winter than those in Europe and Africa. More often, but for shorter distances. That the average duration of a run worldwide is 35 minutes. The most popular day to run? Sunday. Even the songs we most often choose for extra amps of power.
You can track your data on the website, and even broadcast run stats on Twitter and Facebook. And why on Earth would anyone want to do that? The article explains something called the Hawthorne Effect. The theory that people change their behavior — often for the better — when they are being observed. An effect you can see in real-time on millions of Facebook statuses each day.
Did Nike and Apple create Nike+ to sell more stuff? Of course. But they have not rested on their leading-edge laurels. The products have evolved and the product line has grown. The irritating shoe sensor is now history thanks to a new GPS-utilizing software app that launched this week.
In a few short years, Nike has done more than sell more pairs of shoes. They have created a worldwide community of millions that are engaged and excited about running. A strategy that will surely pay dividends in the long run.