Peak oil is a phrase relating to the maximum extent of oil production and the principle behind that phrase has been applied to MANY other subjects. Here I’m asking ‘Has Garmin reached its peak?‘ and I’m asking that question specifically in relation to its sports- and fitness-related devices
Has Garmin reached its peak?
If we look at the question in terms of a PEAK in the sales of the number or value of items Garmin sells then, NO, I don’t think Garmin is yet at its peak. There are more geographic markets it has left to conquer, more smartwatches it COULD sell and, in any case, the overall market is growing. Other things being equal I would expect Garmin to increase it’s market shares in a rising, global market.
The spanner-in-the-works is CV-19 and the likelihood of a significant recession. Even then, unless we experience a longstanding economic depression, the inevitable bounceback will come soon after.
Tech continues to improve but the rate of increase is slowing. There are still many areas that Garmin, and others, can capitalise on. I cover them briefly here at the end of my monthly futures piece. Screens, batteries and GNSS can and will EACH improve. That said, the known and used technologies here seem to only be eeking out small incremental improvements as the years pass. Surely sports technologies ARE close to their peak?
Maybe the KNOWN technologies are at that stage. Of course, novel solutions that are not currently adopted/invented may well emerge and produce a step-change. But when?
I strongly suspect that technology and the cleverness of people have more in store for us.
Matching Market Needs
You could do a market research survey and find out what people think they want and then, at some point, you could determine when all those needs/wants are fulfilled by the products available to buy. That could be a definition of ‘peak features’. However ‘stuff changes’. As technology makes more things possible or easier, then people’s needs and wants morph over time.
Putting that to one side, if we look at Garmin’s product ranges then we have to wonder ‘what’s next?‘ or ‘what is next that would be MEANINGFULLY different?‘
- Garmin Edge 530/830/Edge 1030+ – These are all highly competent bike devices. The vast array of features can obviously be improved or extended slightly. But is there really a ‘next big thing’ coming for the features they offer? Think back to ClimbPro..that is a great feature and I use it but has it created a meaningful step change? A: No. It’s just a slight incremental improvement. Inbuilt LTE/cellular can offer many and varied improvements in the near future but, even then, I would only see it as an enabler for incremental improvements.
- Forerunner 245/745/FR945 – Again, these are all highly competent and feature-rich triathlon and running watches. Track mode is great, triathlon profiles approached perfection years ago and PacePro was nice. Yet, I still seem to run with the same 4 or 5 metrics on my screen that I did 5 years ago and my running experience is little-changed. I guess there is an argument that running with power offered the prospect of a step-change in running tech but the ‘step’ has proved to be only a shallow one so far with perhaps only a quarter of a million people globally using it.
- Venu/Vivoactive – SMART watches seem to mirror SMART phones in terms of the development cycles of specific features with the improvements for watches lagging behind slightly. On that argument alone we might expect SMART watches to be approaching their peak as PHONE TECH appears to have peaked. However, I don’t think that would be a correct way of thinking about it, I reckon there are two step-changes waiting to happen
- Health – simply because the watch is in contact with your body, it offers an opportunity that a smartphone cannot offer. Only WATCHES can directly incorporate novel technologies to sense and measure new things from stress to blood oxygen to hydration and blood glucose. So much more can be accomplished here. Investors realised this a couple of years ago.
- Sport – The full integration between SMART devices and SPORT devices has not yet really happened. When it does and when the SMART watches can properly do SPORTS then so the SPORTS watches will die a relatively quick death.
Q: Have we reached PEAK GARMIN?
A: No, although maybe we have reached it for their bike tech.