Hoping to give Nike+ a run for its money, adidas just added new features to its interactive personal training system miCoach. Along with running, miCoach 4.0 offers several new "coaching plans" for football, soccer and tennis.
Adidas' miCoach made its U.S. debut at the beginning of the year, and retails for $140. To speed adoption, and open up new advertising and marketing opportunities, adidas has debuted a free miCoach mobile app for iPhone and BlackBerry users.
Relying on the phone's GPS systems, the app can track distance, pace, and calories, while coaching athletes based on their pace and training regiment.
"With the free app, you'll spend more time with the brand," said Leonardo Ligresti, vice president, Client Partner at Isobar, which developed the entire Web component of miCoach for adidas.
The miCoach system combines hardware, software, the Web and now mobile technology to help users set and achieve specific goals. By catering to such specific needs, adidas will be able to target marketing messages to individual consumers.
"Beyond gender and age, we can tell whether someone is training for a marathon ... running off road ... in the city ... in the rain," said Ligresti. He added that adidas has not yet begun to tailor marketing efforts based on this information, nor can he speak to future plans -- but the potential is there.
Presently, a shoe-tracker feature keeps track of the number of miles traveled on a particular pair of shoes, and triggers a purchase reminder when the shoe reaches a certain mileage.
Nike Plus Launched in mid-2006 as a joint venture between Nike and Apple. Why adidas waited nearly four years to launch a rival service is not clear, but Ligresti said miCoach is far superior to Nike's offering.
"Rather than a passive tracking device, miCoach gets into the brains of coaches and provides a real-time experience," he said.