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Apple Stops Selling Jawbone Up, Nike FuelBand in Stores -- Making Way for the Apple Watch

It's not the first time Apple has cleared the competition from shelves.

Apple has removed competing fitness bands from its retail stores as the company prepares to ship its own wearable, the Apple Watch.

Checks of major stores in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles and New York reveal Apple no longer carries such popular bands as the Jawbone Up and the Nike+ FuelBand, both activity-tracking wristbands.

The Mio, a heart rate-tracking device worn on the wrist, can only be found in Apple’s online store.

The move comes as the tech behemoth is readying for the April 24 shipping date of the Apple Watch, which Apple has touted as a personal fitness trainer, capable of tracking steps and other metrics, such as heart rate.

And it’s hardly a surprise. Apple has been gradually removing fitness trackers from its stores since last April, with the most recent refresh of its accessories happening this year.

After the initial watch announcement was made last fall, Apple yanked Fitbit’s products from its stores. (Fitbit, on its end, has declined to play nice with HealthKit, Apple’s software repository for health and fitness data, so no love lost there.)

Nike, meanwhile, has been refocusing its efforts on software rather than hardware. Last year Nike was said to be laying off members of its FuelBand division, with no clear plans for future iterations. The company is now one of the early partners for health and fitness apps on the Apple Watch, with its Nike+ app. Searching for the Nike FuelBand on its own site now brings customers to this.

Jawbone’s fate is just as unclear. While the Jawbone Move, a glorified clip-on pedometer, can be found in Apple’s stores, the Up24 wristband is gone. Jawbone’s upcoming wristband, the Up3, has been delayed for months, with no shipping date in sight.

Liz Dickinson, chief executive and founder of Mio, said Apple notified her a few months ago that the Mio would be removed from the retail stores, though the company did not cite the Apple Watch as the reason.

“They said they brought in a new executive in the marketing area who wanted to rework branding for the stores, and to make the Apple brand more front and center and clean up and minimize the number of accessories,” Dickinson said.

Though Mio did not rely on the Apple Stores for a large volume of its sales, Dickinson said it nonetheless conferred a certain prestige on the product to be considered “good enough” to be sold by Apple.

Apple declined to comment, beyond saying that it regularly evaluates and makes changes to its merchandising mix.

Clearing out the competition is not an unprecedented move for Apple. Apple also booted Bose headphones from its stores last fall.

Other competing headphone brands are available through Apple’s online store, including high-end models from Sennheiser, Bowers & Wilkins and Marshall, but Bose was removed from the retail lineup for the holiday season. The change came within weeks of Apple and Bose settling a suit brought by the Framingham, Mass., company, which had accused Beats of infringing on its patents for noise-canceling technology.

Apple acquired Beats last year for $3 billion.

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