TomTom and Garmin: From PNDs to Fitness Watches
Both TomTom and Garmin released earnings reports this week. And, despite personal navigation device demand dropping steadily worldwide, both are doing just fine, thank you. Why? In part because of demand for fitness devices.
I've been running "more seriously" for about eight years. Back then, everyone had a Garmin and I convinced my parents to get me one for the holidays. Today, all my running friends still have Garmins but the models vary wrist to wrist. There are the high end ones ($400+) and the very popular low end ones ($99). And, for the first time I saw post in our social media group asking about a TomTom device for running. I can think of about two runners I know who use the Nike+ shoe pod (not GPS, but a stride measurement device).
So, what's happening in this move from PNDs to sports watches and devices? Eight years ago a PND was a must have item for those who drive. It was the hot item on Black Friday. Then, eventually, most people who wanted one had one. That was just as their smartphones began to offer similar services. Back eight years ago no one outside of running had heard of the Garmin Forerunner or would consider $200 for a GPS watch. Spin forward and now the "fitness watch" is a must have item for anyone trying to stay fit, not just athletes. We are in the world of quantified self and these devices are part of it. Further, as technology has gotten smaller and cheaper, these once bulky devices have become slicker, thinner, lighter....and come in pink.
The interesting thing about both TomTom and Garmin making serious money in this consumer space is that they are still in the hardware business. It's also worth noting a number of other businesses are apparently heading into watches (Apple, Google, Samsung). It will be interesting to see if these entries include such fitness support or compete with these existing offerings. And, yes, I think TomTom and Garmin fitness devices will be hot on Black Friday 2013.