Polar’s Future – Thoughts from new CEO, Sander Werring
Polar very recently appointed Sander Werring as the new CEO. It was an internal move and Mr Werring’s background has been in sales and senior management with 15 years at Polar (linkedin profile)
Here are some highlights from a series of questions where I tried to tease out some information about Polar’s possible future directions, bear in mind that most companies are just not going to give away insights into future strategies. I tried!
Q: What sports-related technologies for watches do you see making big impacts over the next 5 years
A: “Precise technology, reliability, easy and fast to charge, tailormade solutions for each runner/sportsperson, the difference needs to come from the content: More software-based than hardware-based. Audio guidance will increase in the future as well. Multi connectivity needs to blend in all the services that are used.”
My Take Out: One aspect reviewers focus on is the battery life. Battery life isn’t going to change that much in the near future, the next-gen tech is only likely to give us increases of, say, 10% or 20% more. Sure you can increase the size of the battery and you can reduce the consumption but those constraints are well known. So Mr Werring rightly points out that SPEED of charge is important and we have seen inroads in that area from Suunto, Apple and others.
‘Ease of charge’ perhaps this points to some form of QI/wireless charging coming? I guess wireless charging is easier to use than yet another proprietary charging cable but I prefer a well-designed cable. eg Stryd had QI charging and reverted back to charging with a cable+cradle.
‘Precise technology’ – if asked, everyone claims they want accuracy and precision; it seems hard to deliver though.
‘Tailormade solutions…software’ – I can see that a personalised HARDWARE product can command greater margins but suspect that Polar cannot deliver mass customisation at the volumes required to sustain that. Thus personalising the software makes sense be that through personalising to physiological constraints or allowing customisation/simplification of whatever software interface is presented on the app.
‘Audio guidance’ – it’s interesting that Polar would mention this when they are only at the stage of their watches acting as music control devices. In-workout audio guidance seems a long way off for Polar. In-workout audio guidance is not for me but it does have its place for many levels of runner and not just the mass market. That said it’s a highly segmented need. Perhaps more advanced audio abilities would be closer to market if Polar revisited Google’s Wear OS?
‘Multi-connectivity’ – is this hinting at ANT+ support 😉 (probably not!)
Q: Will we ever see another Polar bike computer?
A: “We keep developing solutions for cyclists and are constantly investigating our customer needs and acting accordingly. We cannot be sure that the next generation cycling solutions look like a bike computer, but it can be some new technology bringing cycling to the next level.”
My Take Out: That either sounds intriguing or a simple “No”
Q: If you had to team up with one other COMPLEMENTARY sports electronics company, which would it be and why?
A: “Instead of teaming up with a sports electronic company, we would most likely team up with a company outside this scope, that would be able to complement our expertise and to bring something new and revolutionary to the table. This could be anything from a software company to a company that develops audio/hearables technology.”
My Take Out: Hearables were mentioned again! Perhaps this could be hinting at in-ear heart rate tech combined with music and in-workout feedback. Sounds very much up Jabra’s street. Jabra already had some good products in this space several years ago, I’m thinking of the Jabra Sport Pulse