We’ve obviously had the 920XT replaced by the 935 and the Fenix 3 replaced by the Fenix 5. What about the other Garmin sports watches?
The summer gadget drought is upon us. Next upon us will probably be the Edge 1030 and Vector 3 probably announced a few weeks ahead of the INTERBIKE show which starts on 20th September. So let’s say Tuesday 12th September for an announcement (that really is a guess).
However I want to dwell a little more on these:
- Will the 630 (r. October 2015) be upgraded with only optical HR to become a 635 (A: no!)
- Will the 630 (r. October 2015) be upgraded more significantly to a 635 or 645. If so, how so? (A: yes!)
- Will the 235 (r. October 2015) be upgraded to a 245? If so, how so?
- Will the 735XT (r. May 2016) be upgraded to a 745XT? If so, how so? and, maybe, why?
Again my favourite chart to the right showing which devices WILL be upgraded to CIQ2.x through new watch versions.
One option for Garmin is to degrade and rename the 735XT. By that I mean, through firmware, they take away the multisport options and voila! you have a CIQ2.x-enabled 245 or 645 – or whatever you want to call it. From a firmware/hardware point of view that is probably along the lines of what will happen. Really, though, I’m not so interested in the mechanics behind it. I want to see what’s new for you guys (and me) ie new features.
Just because something, effectively, supports the new ‘app store version’ isn’t a headline selling point in my opinion. So what is?
Headline selling points need to be ‘big topics’. Adding optical HR IS a big topic, like the Polar M430, but that is market-following rather than market-leading. Remember the original release of the MIO Link/Garmin 230? those were market-leading products in that respect.
I can only think of 3 ‘significant’ areas of innovation that will provide a relatively broad appeal to specific SPORTS market segments (there may well be more than 3). These are
- Onboard Music – this is following the likes of TomTom and Polar/AW2. Suunto even questioned users about the inclusion of music functionality recently (credit: @MarkusGietzen). It’s no secret.
- NATIVE Running With Power – this is following what Polar and Suunto have already done. This would be either good news for STRYD or bad. Bad news if Garmin also produce a pod. I had heard about a new Garmin POD collaboration with an Indian startup called BOLTT which I thought was linked to a Garmin running power pod but I do NOT now think that’s the case and it’s really a re-jig of the old Garmin pods. Such a product with native power support is likely, initially, only going to appeal to triathlete and a small section of relatively high-end, gadget-focussed runners (ie me 😉 ). To be clear: many Garmins currently support STRYD but via STRYD’s free CIQ apps.
- In-workout intelligent coaching – I’m envisaging something here that would take Polar Flow’s excellent online running plans to a whole new level of interactivity during your exercise…and on a Garmin sports watch 😉 Your watch would know your physiological goal for that workout and guide you towards it for example by increasing target pace or increasing recovery time between intervals or lower HR on longer runs. This would be technically hard to properly and precisely achieve BUT Garmin work with Firstbeat who already do much of what is required. The downside here though is trust. I just don’t know what kind of runner would really trust their technology more than their paper plan that they downloaded for free from this site (see menus above – or elsewhere!!). I’m making that comment seriously, even though it sounds a bit sarcastic. 12 weeks of your life training for an event is a LOT of personal commitment, you REALLY have to trust the plan to follow it.
Other areas of innovation: So I’m specifically excluding maps and navigation for runners (F5/AW2). Although I get the feeling that maps/nav is a growing ‘need’ especially for new adventurers; I don’t think the need is really that big YET. I’m also excluding all the existing and clever Firstbeat physiological stuff that’s in the Fenix 5/935. It’s REALLY clever technically BUT it’s not really consumer-focussed properly by Garmin to make it important in the watch buying process – anaerobic TL/TE…so what? Do your mates know what it means? I’m also excluding technical connectivity as a differentiator…I think we all expect that by now and if a watch is connected to a specific website via an app then that’s worth a ‘shrug’ rather than getting my credit card out (again) just for that.
The difficulty comes in the complexities of the marketing messages that Garmin must then deliver. Most of you reading this are probably, like me to some degree, in that we look at the tech quite a bit. But you have to admit that it really is difficult to clearly differentiate and explain all of Garmin’s models to your average buyer (this is where one of you comments below and sums it up in 6 words).
Summary of What Might Be (aka: Speculation + a tad of Common Sense)
- September: Edge 1030 (special battery + big screen buttons) + Vector 3 (broader cleat & cranks choice with better calibration…no pod)
- October: Forerunner 245 with Music (+oHR)
- October: Forerunner 645 with Music and Native Runner Power (+oHR)
- Forerunner 745XT (tri-lite): 2018
Must be time to start speculating about the Fenix 6 by now? (Joking)
Native running power would likely be rolled out at a similar time to the 935/Fenix – assuming the same code base is behind them all.
However I don’t see music making it to the 935. If the hardware supports it, I suppose the Fenix 5 might benefit from that feature as it is the ‘flagship model’. (I know it’s the same hardware/software in both F5/935).
The interactive workout coaching could possibly have a wide appeal. Because of my plan links (menus above and using Google Analytics) I have a reasonable idea what people are looking for. But initially it would need to be a high-end feature to sell/justify a premium device. It would also initially be solely RUNNING focussed and probably would not initially find it’s way to the 935/FENIX as a result. In one of my other jobs I’ve looked at this area quite a lot. It IS within the realms of a resourced and intelligent company to implement it for running BUT FOR TRIATHLON it is a LOT, LOT more complicated. So triathlon coaches out there need not give up their day jobs to the robots just yet. Maybe this sort of thing would be too adventurous for Garmin anyway….would be nice tho! Even then, I’d still use my spreadsheets 😉