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Nike says to end run club app in China; to offer 'localised solution'

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People walk past a Nike Inc store at a shopping complex in Beijing
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By Winni Zhou and Casey Hall

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Nike Inc, the world's largest sportswear maker, is discontinuing its popular Nike Run Club (NRC) App in China from July, the company said on Wednesday, the latest reassessment by a U.S. brand of its offerings to the Chinese market.

The U.S. sportswear brand made the announcement to its mainland China users through the app on Wednesday morning and thanked them for their support.

It did not give a reason for the decision but a company spokesperson told Reuters that it planned to provide Chinese runners with an "enhanced and localised solution in the future".

Nike offers the app, which allows users to track their runs and challenge friends to compete, in several countries. It has more than 8 million users in China, the company's most profitable market.

"Thanks for every run together with us!" Nike said in a statement.

"It's with sadness that NRC APP will cease service and operation in your market from July 8."

Nike told Reuters that it was continuing to invest in its Nike Sport Marketplace in China.

"We are creating an ecosystem from China for China, specifically catered to the region’s unique consumer needs to serve athletes better," the company spokesperson said.

"We will continue to serve Chinese runners with an enhanced and localized digital solution in the future."

Other U.S. tech brands, including Linkedin and Yahoo, have in the past year ceased to offer or reduced services to users in mainland China, citing reasons from censorship to increasing compliance requirements.

China has put new curbs on internet companies in areas such as content, and has also imposed new laws, such as one on personal information protection designed to protect users' data privacy.

Posts on the closing of the NRC app gathered more than 70,000 views on the Weibo social media platform, with many users sad to see the end of the service.

"I've been using the app for seven years, and it will discontinue like this," said one user.

"Every step I have run was recorded here," another Weibo user said, ending the post with three tearful emojis.

(This story corrects first paragraph to say that the app is being discontinued from July, not Wednesday)

(Reporting by Winni Zhou and Casey Hall; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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