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Sports Equipment Technology

ABI Research Forecasts Great Growth in GPS Fitness Watch Market

August 09, 2011


GPS fitness watches are really taking off and forecasters are saying shipments will reach over 10,000,000 this year.

Nike/TomTom’s (News - Alert) GPS fitness watch is leading the market but Garmin has also stepped up to the challenge, with the latest edition of its Forerunner series, the 610, according to a research study done by ABI Research (News - Alert) as reported in a press release at

Garmin’s (News - Alert) fitness watch, according to the press release, has “slim line ergonomics and responsive touch user interface.” Garmin’s Outdoor and Fitness division, where the fitness watches are included, contributed 27 percent of the company's total operating income for 2010, according to Even better, Garmin saw its fitness sales increase by 25% for 2Q11.

With Nike/Tom Tom’s GPS fitness watch, both men and women can track and store their runs (up to 50), according to the company’s Web site.

ABI Research forecasts trends in connectivity and worldwide emerging markets, according to the press release.

GPS fitness watches are extolled by athletic coaches because they’re an accurate way to measure speed and distance outdoors, according to The Web site also says that GPS gathers “hot-fix points that leave a bread crumb trail of latitude and longitude location, so with some devices you can download these hot-fix points to map to programs like Google (News - Alert) Earth, Map my Ride, or Map my Run.”

“Garmin remains by far the dominant player in this expanding market, with over 90% of the market share, but it will face some new emerging competition,” said ABI’s telematics and navigation senior analyst Patrick Connolly, in the press release.

He’s right. These two are not the only players on the field. Polar, Citizen, and Casio have also announced new GPS fitness devices, according to ABI. Polar launched its RCX5 training computer, with a GPS accessory; Citizen is integrating GPS into its watches with the Appleseed, though, as ABI makes clear, “Although the watch has no clear fitness application and clocks in at over $4,000, the GPS technology is expected to filter into future watch lines.”

Casio also announced its prototype watch that features Bluetooth 4.0 for smartphone synching, and has plans “to incorporate public transport and fitness functionality via GPS in the near future,” according to the press release.

Retail is also seeing a bump, as fitness remains a key segment at the major application stores. Companies like Runkeeper, Nike, and MapMyRun, according to ABI, continue to entice new users and look into new business models, as do Basis, Fitbit, Jawbone, Bodymedia, Philips and Hitachi (News - Alert), according to ABI.

Deborah DiSesa Hirsch is an award-winning health and technology writer who has worked for newspapers, magazines and IBM in her 20-year career. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves