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Samsung miCoach phone takes on Nike+iPod kit

Adidas partners with phone maker on miCoach

Samsung and Adidas have teamed up on a new miCoach mobile phone designed for runners.

Like Apple and Nike's iPod+Nike sports kit, the miCoach system includes a sensor attached to a pair of running shoes and a workout journal to help people design and keep track of fitness programmes. It also encourages people as they run, telling them to "speed up" if they aren't keeping pace, and giving them updates on their heart rate, time left in their run, and more.

With miCoach, Samsung and Adidas enter the fray against Apple and Nike, which started offering the Nike+iPod sports kit in July, 2006, also aimed at people with active lifestyles.

The main differences between the two systems are that the Samsung model is also a mobile phone, while the Apple one is just a music player. Any runner can stop their music and workout by pressing a button on the miCoach, then answer a phone call. But the device has far less music storage capacity than the iPod. The miCoach comes with 1GB of storage space, while the iPod Nano comes in 4GB and 8GB capacities.

The cost of the two systems is also different. Samsung/Adidas buyers will pay around €400 (£300) for the deluxe kit with the miCoach mobile phone, heart monitor, shoe sensor and more. That compares to a $328 (£170) gift pack offered by Nike for the Nike+iPod system.

One key detail for avid runners is that the Samsung/Adidas system does not tie a user to a specific brand of shoe like the Nike+iPod system does. The sensor sold with the Samsung/Adidas system fits on the laces of a runner's shoes, while the sensor in the Nike+iPod system is built into the shoe.

The miCoach will be available first in Germany, then the rest of Europe by the end of March, according to Sophia Kim, a Samsung representative. At least two different kits will be sold through Samsung and Adidas stores and mobile phone retail outlets. The basic kit, which includes the miCoach mobile phone and arm band, will cost around €200, while the deluxe kit, which also includes the shoe-sensor, heart monitor and more, will cost about €400.

The miCoach mobile phone is a slim, 14.5mm-thick slider handset with a 2in LCD screen with a textured back to offer better grip. It comes in seven colours, including pink, red, dark grey, sapphire and silver. The handset includes a 2Mp camera and can connect to a computer via a USB connection or wirelessly with Bluetooth.

Adidas designed the monitoring systems for the miCoach package, as well as the web-based coaching and training system, Kim said. The two companies are working together on sales and marketing.

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