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Garmin Gets in the Wearables Game, Plays to Its Fitness Followers

Jen A. Miller | May 8, 2014
Nike may be leaving the wearable device market, but Garmin's getting into the game with vivofit, a wristband with optional heart rate monitor aimed specifically at the runners, cyclists and swimmers Garmin already knows well.

Two additional vívofit features help present a more accurate fitness picture. One, vívofit is water resistant up to 50 meters, so users can swim with it. Two, when users activate the heart rate monitor, the vívofit adjusts calories burned in accordance to how hard the heart worked during a workout.

Wearable Market Crowded, But Garmin Targeting 'Detailed' Segment

Llamas describes Garmin's approach to the wearables market as "much more detailed segmentation" than Fitbit and Jawbone and (until recently) Nike, who he says are "going after every single customer in the country.

Instead, Llamas says, Garmin targets "typically someone that's very passionate about their exercise and working out and knowing exactly how they're doing on their workouts. If I take a look at these vendors who do this kind of stuff, Garmin's plucking the apple directly from the tree and not necessarily from the barrel."

Rumblings about the strength of the wearables market has been sounding, especially since April. Late last month, Nike laid off part of its FuelBand fitness tracker team. Some say this marked a crack in the foundation of the wearable tech business. Others speculate that Nike's software may wind up on an Apple watch or band.

Llamas says it's just the market shaking itself out. "The wearables market - particularly this segment of the market - [is] going to have growing pains considering there's a lot of copycat vendors and products and services" he says, adding that Nike faltered in that the FuelBand device could only sync with an iPhone.

There's also another challenge on the horizon for Garmin and other wearables vendors: The app field. RunKeeper, a fitness tracking application with more than 25 million users, just released RunKeeper Breeze, which also measures overall activity. Right now, it's only available on the iPhone 5S, but RunKeeper tells Runner's World that it will be available for other devices in the future.


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