Garmin and Strava have some running goodies in store…maybe
I had hoped to get all the information here fully corroborated with each point from a couple of sources…but didn’t. All the points here individually come from single sources. So this post should be treated as rumour, opinion and conjecture. Some of this stuff has been hoped for and rumoured for quite some time yet now it looks relatively imminent ie 3-6 month timeframe.
This post links together changes linked to Garmin Connect, Stryd, Strava and new Garmin watches for 2021…exciting news for everyone!
Native Running Power
It seems that Garmin has been working on native running power for some time and that it is close to going live.
I was surprised to hear this as my previous understanding was that Garmin and Stryd were both happy with the status quo whereby each of them produced and separately displayed & stored their own flavours of running power. To an outsider, this seemed a somewhat perverse stand-off as such an outsider would assume that Stryd would want to be natively integrated into the full Garmin ecosystem..not so. My personal take was that perhaps the current impasse provided a significant barrier-to-entry for other startups? thus insulating Stryd from new competition to some degree.
What is NATIVE Running Power – ‘Native’ refers to when Running Power becomes an intrinsic and interwoven part of the platform just like heart rate, cadence, speed or bike power. Polar, Coros and Suunto already treat running power natively.
Look at Stryd’s current platform where they have replicated the links, functions, alerts and related metrics that should already be in the ANT+ spec. It must have been MANY man-years of work to get where they are today. And where they are today is in a position of offering a high-quality and near-complete ecosystem, regardless of what you might think of the trainign merits of running power or the accuracy of their pod.
What has Garmin done? Nothing. Well, at least nothing much PUBLICALLY since their excellent Garmin Running Power apps were released more than 3 years ago.
Remember, for Garmin to implement native running power there would be a significant cost. It’s not just changing the name of the field in a FIT file. There would have to be changes to structured workout creation, running plans, alerts, related data fields and more. It would take man-years of work to do all this. And let’s say a man-year of work costs Garmin $100,000 if you include an allocation of various overheads.
That’s a very nice freebie for Garmin to give us. Thank you!
Naturally, the reality is that they would want something in return – fair enough.
A Garmin Running Power Pod to rival Stryd?
I’ve no intel on new hardware at all, sorry.
A Garmin running pod is the only way that I can see hardware helping to DIRECTLY recover the cost of implementing native running power. Of course, INDIRECTLY, Garmin could instead be aiming for running power on the wrist like Polar/Coros and that might help to keep shifting high-end Forerunners and Fenix watches from all the e-shelves. Or Garmin could do both.
If Garmin changes the Connect platform to fully integrate native running power for a physical pod then the integration of a software algorithm working solely off wrist-based sensors would be MUCH cheaper than for a standalone project. But that logic would probably not qork quite so well in reverse ie if Garmn first chose to implement a wrist-based algorithm , the cost of then developing and distributing a physical product is significant.
But is there a market for new Garmin Power Pod Hardware in any case?
I suspect it’s not so hard to replicate the published algorithms and accurate sensors used in the existing Stryd pod to make a new pod. It’s just that I’ve wondered if there is a sufficiently large market for it to tickle Garmin’s interest in the first place.
Let’s explore the market potential.
We could guess that the market is at least somewhere near the number of free Garmin Running Power (GRP) downloads-to-date: 73,141. However, that would include people like me who installed it but don’t use it and it will include people who installed it because it was free and who would never pay to run with power.
Of course, it excludes others who might want a proper solution that takes into account actual wind rather than forecast wind from a weather app on Garmin Connect; GRP only takes vague wind estimates for your area and takes potentially inaccurate GPS positioning info and so must be wrong.
Then again there’s probably at least a market of 34,419 people who have actually spent $200ish on Stryd, maybe they could be tempted to buy a different or better pod? (probably not)
Yet Stryd’s market IS even bigger than 34,419. Stryd also sells to runners who use Apple Watch, Samsung, Polar Vantage V2 and other devices. The 34,419 figure probably also excludes people who couldn’t be bothered to upgrade to the zones data field from the earlier Stryd app (11,212 downloads) and earlier data fields (Stryd Power 39,996 downloads)
Thus my guess for the active market size for running with power would be
- Stryd 65,000 active units, probably more.
- Garmin Running Power 20,000 active runners, maybe more
- Polar native power less than 5,000 active runners
- Coros native power less than 1,000 active runners
- Others (various apps, excluding those using Stryd) less than 10,000 active runners
Of course Garmin has your data in Garmin Conenct. GDPR-permitting it knows some of the real figures to a greater degree of accuracy than my guesses here.
Anyway, that’s almost a nice round 100,000 active users who are probably all mostly happy with what they currently have. You could argue the numbers and breakdown up and down a bit but I reckon that 100,000 is ‘about right’. I doubt very much the figure would be 150,000 let alone 200,000 and it’s definitely more than 50,000.
If Garmin released their own pod then, for sure, it would sell, I’d buy one for a start. Maybe when bundled up with a watch and with some new niche features added, like dual-sided power, it would tempt a small proportion of users to switch; it could even sell 100,000 units over a few years? Or maybe it would be significantly lower at 10,000 pod sales? Who knows exactly? But it wouldn’t sell 500,000.
Nevertheless, the maths is still favourable
100,000 units at $200 = a lot.
Any Garmin pod would almost certainly broadcast using BLE and ANT+ so it would and could sell to Apple Watch users (of whom there are more serious runners using it than you think). It would probably even be able to easily work with the existing Stryd WatchOS app 😉 as both would very soon end up using the new ANT+ standard that would be agreed.
Further up, I posed the question “Is there a market for a new Garmin running power pod?“, my answer would be that there is not a clear cut case for Garmin. However, the real appeal to Garmin may be the power-from-the wrist option to help keep differentiating and pushing their high-end watch sales. THAT is probably their motivation, although I still can’t see where a sensible wind estimate would come from in such a scenario – perhaps a revitalised TEMPE unit that more accurately measures environmental stuff like temperature, wind, air pressure???
Running Power on Strava
Running power data that was originally sent to Strava for runs a couple of years used to be accepted by Strava. However, Strava did not have separate repositories for running power and bike power. The two are essentially different and Strava was combining them. For triathletes, this causes a very significant problem and that was one of the reasons that strava stopped accepting running power.
Things have moved on a little.
I am aware of various data feeds from Strava that have contained running power for many months.
Other info here: strava.com
And here from March:
So, this and other intel, suggests that Strava is working to include Running Power more holistically in their platform, just like Garmin. In a way, this is a little surprising as it will be an expensive exercise for Strava. On the other hand, running power will inevitably be stashed away for Strava premium subscribers and may even create some new subscribers and the yearned-for revenue that Strava needs. Maybe.
Talking of revenues and subscriptions, Stryd’s recent feature additions (training plans) will also be going subscriber-only in 2021 (just the NEW features), plans from Training Peaks and Final Surge cost money, your new high-end Garmin will cost money and Strava Premium costs money. I sense subscriber fatigue is going to be something we all have to deal with in the coming years.
Running Power on Training Peaks, Final Surge, Today’s Plan and other platforms
These guys have all modified their platforms over the last 3 years to accept FIT files and other sources that contain proprietary running power. You might think they might be a bit miffed at these potential new changes but, from what I’ve heard, it’s probably no biggie for them to easily switch to native running power.
The Mythical Forerunner 655
For John 😉
New top-end Garmin watch models typically have disclosed and undisclosed bits of better-performing hardware, be it a better processor (undisclosed) or larger screen area (disclosed). They also tend to have ‘some new feature’ to tempt us to switch. That could be a hardware feature, like LTE (cellular connection without a smartphone present) or it could be a software feature like Track Mode on the FR745 which then quickly gets backwardly ported to a select group of other ‘recent’ high-end watches.
Whilst there are still no rumours of a new top-end, running-only Forerunner 655, there ARE strong rumours of a new Forerunner 955 and Forerunner 955 LTE and these rumours are almost certainly correct.
Clearly LTE will open up Garmin to the opportunities of introducing new functionality. OK, it will eat battery but it could, for example, broadcast your live race stats and position to family members. That’s nice but I’m not sure how attractive a sporting feature LTE will prove to be. And I’m not sure how attractive a smart feature LTE will be for a Garmin watch either. For example, I could use an Apple Watch 6 LTE to ask Siri for help but Garmin is much more limited at delivering on wider smart features like that.
Clearly native running power for Garmin could be a new, sports-specific feature that would justify an upgrade for some of us.
As for the FR955, well, it is going to have a better processor, a LARGER SCREEN AREA (yay), and probably/finally Quickfit bands. Maybe even a sleep widget 😉
Garmin is going to soon release native running power along with either a hardware/software mechanism that produces the power numbers for new, top-end Forerunners/Fenixes.
As always some of you will think this is made up. I guess it could be (it isn’t). But, then again, there is always an unfortunate bit of info somewhere else if you look hard enough