I exchanged a few emails with the very nice Mr Gill from titaniumgeek about the STRYD he is currently powering his way around the Midlands of England with.
We talked about stryd-things; speculating about its future.
A bit about the present though. How is STRYD supported by the 3 big sports watch vendors? Leading into the purely speculative takeover chat.
- Garmin 920XT/FENIX 3 (presumably also 630+Epix) – ANT+ only – Requires the IQ Connect field created by STRYD to enable the display of running pace whilst in cycling mode (!). Displaying power requires a cycling mode to be chosen in Garmin.
- Suunto Ambit3 and Ambit 2 – Suunto state proper compatibility.
- Polar V800 worked from about October 2015.
So there is clearly an opportunity here for Garmin. dcrainmaker suggests it will help 630 sales; he may be right. But I’ve pointed that out for a LONG time that STRYD-support needs to be in the next year’s Garmin 930XT, just to give it something new to entice us to buy it.
So: A corporate takeover. Easy!
Well no. Stryd is a private company, as far as I know, and so would need to be at the right price to tempt the owners to sell. But what is the price? Surely it would depend on the market potential or the potential of the technology for subsequent applications.
We’ve no real idea about what the take-up will be following the first crowd-funded wave. It could be amazing. But even in the worst case scenario I would imagine a reasonably good take-up.
Who will buy the stryd product as production gets moving? I would contend that it would be either interested niche-runners, like fell runners, OR MOSTLIKELY power-freak-triathletes like me. Note that it will not be the pure-cyclists who are into power use. Cyclists, in general, don’t run that much at least to the extent that they would need a running power meter. Nor will it be track athletes.
It will be people who want to extend the sound, train-by-power methodology from cycling to running. It will be people who will want to use power as a holistic measure of training load for triathlon. (We’ll leave swimming power to one side!!). I’ve moaned about HOLISTIC TRAINING LOAD for a while, instead myself coming at getting triathlon-training-load from HR/TRIMP – which is now quite possible from all 3 main vendors; sort of.
However, let’s face it, the vast majority of these train-by-power triathletes will use Garmin watches at present.
So if Polar or Suunto were to acquire STRYD instead of Garmin then surely that would give one of those two a market advantage? Possibly. Maybe. But they wouldn’t be buying STRYD for their existing customers INSTEAD they would be buying it to tempt existing triathletes away from Garmin.
That might work.
Except the problem there is that triathletes’ power meters won’t work with Polar/Suunto AMBIT3 as they are mostly ANT+!! Well, some power meters are dual band and an ANT+/Bluetooth bridge like the 4iiii Viiiiva could be used but the point mostly stands that ANT+/technology inertia will inhibit mass moves away from garmin in the short term.
Polar/Suunto being the acquirer COULD happen. I just don’t think it will.
So that leaves Garmin.
Power when running in the Garmin environment, if you can capture it, does show in Garmin Connect. But apart from that there has not been much forthcoming from Garmin about their plans. Garmin are QUITE secretive about ALL their plans. No plans for integration that we know. No support for power whilst running. It just happens that IQ exists and that STRYD have used that themselves to add some of the required functionality.
You can be SURE that Garmin R&D have, by now, a STRYD unit or two in pieces in laboratories/factories. They could be working on integration (they almost certainly are, in some form). They could be planning to work closely with (or partner with) STRYD then, like MIO’s optical HR in the Forerunner 225, they could use that expertise to do their own thing – as with the recent ELEVATE oHRM from Garmin in the Vivosmart.
Garmin have a LARGE R&D team churning out products like the HRM-SWIM. How big is that market? Surely the running power meter market is MUCH bigger.
Surely Garmin would go solo?
Maybe. Power meters are hard-to-implement, so it would take a while. Hence the attractiveness of an acquisition.
Maybe there are flaws with STRYD’s approach? We don’t really know yet. Maybe there’s a better way? Garmin could do that themselves. Patents-permitting.
So if there is a big enough market, it boils down to Garmin’s overall profit derived from either a high cost but working acquisition NOW or a lower cost but delayed in-house R&D effort LATER.
Currently at $200 for a STRYD unit, let’s say there’s a $50 profit for Garmin at that price after acquisition. Factor in a higher price but much of that taken out by distributor costs so I’ll just ignore it. If Garmin bought STRYD for $1m, they’d have to sell 20,000 units. Not too far off one for every triathlete in the UK. That’s a lot of STRYDs to sell to break even.
Compare that to $0.5m in salaried and other R&D costs and a >$350 Garmin price tag…
I reckon Garmin are doing one themselves, in-house, and I reckon we’ll hear something next year, some time. I’m hopefully wrong and I wish STRYD all the success they deserve – which is a LOT! Good luck Gus