Apple not the first to develop the iBike; but does it matter?

My "iBike" post appears to have touched a nerve with cyclists out there. One reader took issue with the concept that Apple is actually innovating in the bicycling space.

I updated my post about Apple's new Smart Bicycle System under development (imagine Apple’s Nike + iPod system for cyclists) and removed the word "iBike" because that term is a federally registered trademark of Velocomp LLP, manufacturers of the iBike power meter, which started shipping in 2006.

That post appears to have touched a nerve with cyclists out there. One reader took issue with the concept that Apple is actually innovating in the bicycling space.

Cyclists know that what is being proposed [by Apple] is nothing more than what is already being done, indeed the whole 'ibike' name is already actively in use by another company that measures wattage of a user.

In addition to this, [Team] HTC and Google have already been doing the team components of this in the last Tour de France [Google's MyTracks app for Android was used see the riders exact locations and real-time telemetry data.]

And last but not least, you have applications on the Android or IPhone such as Runkeeper and Sportypal that do wonderful jobs at providing all sorts of statistics in real time of a persons journey on a bicycle.

There is plenty of prior use already out there, the fact Apple have been given this patent is offensive and will do nothing but stifle an already very active component of the cycling market

Whoa! At least the CEO of Velocomp LLP was civil in his response:

We totally agree with you that an iPhone-based bike computer and power meter is a great idea.  We started working on one about a year ago and have just started shipping the iBike Dash-an iPhone and iPod touch bike computer that does 99.9% of the cool things you described in your article (everything except the feature described in the Apple patent application).

One thing to keep in mind here. Apple wasn't the first to develop a portable media player, mobile phone or tablet PC. But it stormed the market and now dominates in all three arenas. I'm not dismissing the first mover advantage, but rather submit for your consideration that there are advantages to being a second mover sometimes, especially and incredibly well-capitalized second mover.

Three things could happen: a) Apple could come in and completely dominate the bicycling market (ala iPhone/iTunes/App Store), b) Apple could coast in (sorry) and treat it like a hobby (ala Apple TV) or c) Apple could simply sit on the patent and do nothing.

What's your take? Wouldn't it be great to connect your iPhone to your bike?

Photo: Weblogsurf

Show Comments