In a surprising move, Nike is said to have fired a portion of its FuelBand team and has chosen to halt its development of wearable fitness-related hardware, according to a recent report from CNET. The news comes ahead of Apple’s anticipated “iWatch” launch, which analysts are expecting to see in late 2014.

The publication explained: “Nike is gearing up to shutter its wearable-hardware efforts, and the sportswear company this week fired the majority of the team responsible for the development of its FuelBand fitness tracker, a person familiar with the matter told CNET.” Brian Strong, a Nike spokesperson, also confirmed that “a small number of layoffs” are scheduled to occur within his company in the near future, but refused to comment further.

CNET’s source, however, claimed to have the details:

The company informed members of the 70-person hardware team – part of its larger, technology-focused Digital Sport division comprised of about 200 people – of the job cuts Thursday. About 30 employees reside at Nike’s Hong Kong offices, with the remainder of the team at Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters.

Following the original publication of the above news, Nike issued a more direct statement to Re/code (included below), though even then the company dodged around the question of continued hardware development.

The current-generation FuelBand will be sold and supported, according to Nike, and a “small number” of layoffs will be made; yet it’s unknown whether future generation FuelBands are still in development. Nike said:

The Nike+ FuelBand SE remains an important part of our business. We will continue to improve the Nike+ FuelBand App, launch new METALUXE colors, and we will sell and support the Nike+ FuelBand SE for the foreseeable future.

As Re/code notes, the statement “does seem to leave a lot of room, however, for the possibility that the Portland athletic apparel giant won’t produce future products in the FuelBand line.” Though it may be that Nike is still mulling the decision and that we’ll hear more in the coming months.

As a reminder, Apple is expected to bring a health-focused wearable device to the market in late 2014. Referred to as the “iWatch” by the press, this device should integrate with iOS while offering users functions traditionally reserved for the iPhone and iPad. Could the threat of another key player in the wearables market be influencing Nike’s decision to kill off the FuelBand?

We’ll keep you updated with further information as we receive it.

In the meantime, see: Missed Out On A WWDC Ticket? You Could Still Be In With A Chance, Apple Expands Its Maps Flyover Coverage To Include Berkeley, East Bay Area, and AppAdvice Daily: Kill Robots From Outer Space And Fight Evil Geometric Shapes.