In terms of public consciousness, the Apple Watch is arguably at the forefront of smartwatch awareness. But just because a product comes from Apple doesn’t mean it’s the ultimate fit for everyone (that’s why there are Android smartphones, after all). In fact, for athletes in particular, the Apple Watch is barely a blip on their radar when it comes to picking out a smartwatch that suits their needs. Rather, they’ve been flocking to Garmin, a company most known for their car navigation systems, to equip them with smart tech that keeps them sprinting.
What makes Garmin’s smartwatch stand out in an increasingly crowded field is that it cherry picks features from a lot of other smartwatch options and combines them into one smartwatch to rule them all, especially from an athletic person’s viewpoint. No other smartwatch on the market besides Garmin’s possesses waterproof capabilities enabling it to be submerged in a pool, a GPS tracking system perfect for logging distance ran or biked, a hefty battery for extended power or a heart rate monitor. Because of these features, Garmin has become the dominant smartwatch in marathons and endurance sports-based events.
While the Apple Watch boasts many of the same features as Garmin’s, there’s one crucial component that makes it more of a burden than anything when it comes to an accessible, durable and functional sports watch: it’s dependence on the iPhone. Without an iPhone, the Apple Watch is essentially useless. Athletes in particular want something they can simply wear on their person that provides them with all the monitoring and data they need, without having to be reliant on syncing a smartwatch with their smartphone and lugging both around. Garmin’s watch is independent and able to stand alone, and that’s attractive to those who are extremely active.
Sure, Garmin’s watch has some drawbacks, especially when looking at the rather shoddy app built around the device and how typical smartwatch functionalities like receiving and checking texts and emails drains the power out of the watch. But, Garmin’s not looking to make a watch that is all things for everybody. This is a watch for extremely active and fitness-minded people, not a statement piece on how high-tech one might be. Garmin’s market and target audience is definitely niche, but it’s carved out a space in the relatively strong fitness and health arena for wearables to become that industry’s go-to smartwatch. While Apple remains busy trying to perfect a smartwatch that caters to all (a nearly impossible task), Garmin has fine-tuned a staple product that directly caters to a large and invested consumer niche.