Apple Watch in Sports vs Garmin in Sports
This is a topic I’m going to return to again and again. Why? Well, because it will be one of the fundamental drivers of sports tech over the next 5 years, or so. Ignore it or belittle it at your peril.
A simple: “An athlete needs 5 buttons on a watch to run properly with tech” argument is a little naive on several levels.
In this ongoing saga, there won’t be a Big Bang despite the locking of horns of two of sports tech’s leviathans, Apple & Garmin. Although, there may well be a series of ‘pops’ as the months progress. Worse than that, this story probably warrants the term ‘fizzle’ rather than even ‘pop’.
To cheer you up, part 2 of the headlined story, below, IS a Big Bang. You can page down now to be teased about one of the year’s biggest announcements or put up with me waffling about Apple for a minute.
Form Goggles in the Apple Store
On the face of it, this is a nothing story.
“Big News…Apple stocks new 3rd Party Product” would be one way of looking at it. I get it. Sure, it’s great for Form Goggles but why on earth would Apple want to stock techy swimming goggles. I mean, shrug, I guess they’ll make some money. Not much but some.
Let’s step back a few months.
When Form Goggles released their product it was no big surprise to see it hook up with Garmin Connect. Everyone does that and it’s obvious why. ie 98% of tech-loving triathletes buy Garmin watches. I’m guessing at 98%…it could be 99%.
And it was no big surprise to soon see Form providing support for Polar’s OH1 to give accurate and live ohr data as you swim beamed into your goggles from a reading on your temple. OK, it’s a bit clunky to attach the OH1 to your FORM‘s straps but it IS a super-cool, SUPER-ACCURATE solution. That makes me happy.
But then BAM BAM
- Form seems to reverse partnerships and dig in deeper with Garmin by providing OWS support for GPS position/pace/distance and oHR beamed from the Fenix 6/945/745 on your wrist to the goggles. That’s a less accurate techy setup, with an issue or two but equally as cool, nevertheless.
- Then that same advanced Garmin functionality was mirrored for Apple Watch 5 (3, SE & 6 too). What?!?
Apple Watch? That’s for the pretty people in cities, right? Surely, you use the Apple Watch as a remote control to your iPhone when you are videoing some liberal mass-gathering for your Instagram feed? rather than using it as a rangefinder tool to figure out just how far away that deer is before you shoot it. Right? Apple Watch doesn’t really have stealth mode nor triathlon mode. Right? I mean, is it even waterproof? Oh yes, the silly twizzly-crown action, I almost forgot. Not very ‘pro sports’.
OTHER READING: Apple Watch Used as a Garmin Fenix Alternative
Yet, quite a lot of people are using Apple Watch for sports. They really are. That’s precisely why Form wants Apple Watch compatibility. There are millions of Apple Watches out there and there most definitely are not millions of Polar and Suunto users out there. Money speaks.
TIP: Make your product compatible with the cash rather than compatible with the cool, pro triathletes.
Fine. Form has clearly done some homework. Lots of 3rd-party companies do clever stuff with the Apple Watch. They want to make money by linking up. Sports sensor/accessory companies are realising that you launch a new product with Garmin and Apple compatibility.
BUT this announcements about the Apple Store is THE OTHER WAY AROUND. It is APPLE who are doing the hard work and stocking the goggles (well, probably listing them but you get my drift). It’s a strategic thing for them. Apple wants to be seen as more and more sporty. It’s a creeping thing too.
- Remember the Apple Fitness+ subscription will be coming very soon (late 2020).
- Remember also that the announcement for WatchOS7 earlier this year teased the addition of some form of low-end VO2max addition to the AW. #ComingVerySoon
These actions together are pointing to an obvious and predictable trend.
Apple aims to take over the fitness & sports world. Like China, they play the Long Game.
So, there we go. That’s one thing that will shake up Garmin‘s relatively cosy world.
OTHER READING: Garmin | Kill the Competition | A How-To Guide
OTHER READING: Beating a Garmin Edge – How a Competitor Can Do It
Next Week’s Big Bang
No. This Big Bang is not about the Hammerhead Karoo 2 (K2). That sweet device is the latest contender in with a chance of spoiling Garmin’s party with the Edge bike crowd. The K2 is a great device but will it make significant inroads into Garmin cycling head unit market share? Maybe. Probably not.
Anyway, you can buy one of those now(ish) if you get your order in VERY quickly. They are about to start shipping in more significant numbers very soon but there’s a big waitlist.
So the NDA-based news is that there will be a Big Bang next week.
And yes it’s a crazy time to release a significant new product. Or is it? After all, we are all saving some cash for those Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales (of 3-year old products that we don’t want). Maybe it’s a cunning plan to divert your cash stash into a new product sales rather than a new sale of an old product.
In terms of the phrases I used above, this new product will probably be a ‘POP’ and probably a bigger ‘POP’ than the launch of the K2.
Stay tuned folks.
PS Yes, don’t buy your ‘thing’ yet. This could be better. Wait.
Your thoughts welcomed below! Please don’t use the 5-button line 😉