The humiliation of Nike Plus


We just bought the Nike Plus in-the-shoe-chip gizmo. It’s brilliant. One piece plugs into your iPod, and the second fits into your running shoe. The shoe chip tracks your stride, the iPod tells you your pace, and when you get back home and plug it all in to your computer, you can track your running progress on screen and invite friends to challenges. The whole thing is a clever loyalty device that entangles Nike runners in switching costs — why on Earth will we ever buy New Balance sneakers again if Nike has become our running coach? It also has a nice viral element, since you talk to your friends about it, and then set up web-race results, and then they recruit more friends …

We’re barely figuring this all out when a friend challenged us to a 1k run. There it was, in an email, a blatant provocation. She runs marathons. Our mutual scores will be compared on the web site.

We’re going to get killed.

Luckily, we have a solution. Since Force = Mass x Acceleration, and we’re heavy, and thus have more mass, and our running friend is light, and thus has less mass, obviously WE are expending much more force to accelerate. We’ll adjust the race results accordingly and demand that our speed by increased in line with our additional weight … or maybe just strap the chip to our Golden Retriever.

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