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Garmin and Strava have some running goodies in store…maybe
About a year ago I had several disparate pieces of intel all pointing to the arrival of native Running Power for the Garmin environment. Clearly, that didn’t materialise because of Covid or other factors but native power rumblings keep sounding in the background and I’m hoping for something in the next 6 months, most likely with the Forerunner 955 (more details).
This post links together changes linked to Garmin Connect, Stryd, Strava and new Garmin watches for 2022…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. (2 industry sources)
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?
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 on Garmin watches 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 training 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 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. Make that part of a project with a project manager and all that comes with it then the cost very easily goes above $500,000…probably a LOT above that figure.
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. That would help the sales of high-end Forerunners and Fenix watches. 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 work quite so well in reverse ie if Garmin 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: 96,562. 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 63,276 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 63,276. Stryd also sells to runners who use Apple Watch, Samsung, Polar Vantage V2 and other devices. The 63,276 figure probably also excludes people who couldn’t be bothered to upgrade to the zones data field from the Stryd workout app (30,001 downloads) and earlier data fields (Stryd Power 45,000 downloads)
Thus my guess for the active market size for running with power would be
- Stryd: 85,000 active units, probably more.
- Garmin Running Power: 30,000 active runners, maybe more
- Polar native power: less than 10,000 active runners
- Coros native power: less than 1,000 active runners
- Others (various apps, excluding those using Stryd) less than 15,000 active runners
Of course, Garmin has your data in Garmin Connect. GDPR-permitting it knows some of the real figures to a greater degree of accuracy than my guesses here.
Anyway, that’s about 150,000 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 150,000 is ‘about right’. I doubt very much the figure would be 200,000 let alone 250,000 and it’s definitely more than 100,000.
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 rrp$200 = a lot. (Garmin would sell that wholesale at $120ish and the marginal cost of production might be $30)
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 from Garmin watches
Things have moved on a little and in September 2021, Strava now handles running power from all watch brands. Handy they already have it in place on the off chance’ that Garmin starts to produce it on all Garmin run workouts.
So, this and other intel, suggest that Strava is working to include Running Power more deeply 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.
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 955
New top-end Garmin watch models typically have publically disclosed and secret hardware components, 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 actual sightings of the new Forerunner 955 and this info is from some of my more trusted sources.
Clearly, native running power for Garmin could be a new, sports-specific feature that would justify an upgrade for some of us. Native running power could come on January’s Epix/Fenix 7 launches but I have heard zero intel on that, those new watches get several hardware upgrades, some minor features and some route/map-specific updates.
Native running power is a headline feature for a new high-end sports watch – not a new high end adventure/sport watch
Garmin is soon going to 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
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