A lot was made of the announcement that fitness guru Jay Blahnik was moving to Apple. Now comes news that Ben Schaffer has moved from Nike to Apple. This one matters and Apple has just scored a big time player in the design of wearable equipment, apparel and footwear. Beyond his role in the Nike Fuelband, Schaffer has been a key man in Nike’s Flyknit line, which has been a huge success. One has to wonder why Apple would bring in someone with those footwear and apparel chops, and what it actually means within Nike’s Digital Sport team.
To give some context on Schaffer, it is worth noting that, according to many observers, there are two groups within Nike that drive massive revenue generating innovation–The Innovation Kitchen and The Zoo. They are like the Navy Seals of the sports footwear, apparel and equipment business. And Schaffer was Director of the Innovation Kitchen Studio. It is where the best of the best go to innovate and drive the future of sports for the Company.
Clearly a big win for Apple, that should spark a round of additional questions as to why he left, and what he’ll be working on. Our guess is that Apple knows that with M7, and with putting the phone at the center of wearables, having someone with Schaffer’s credibility in both the hard and softgoods space will only tilt the playing field of wearables further in Apple’s favor. Score a big win for Apple!