“Low cost watches rapidly emerged in 2012, and are forecast to take a significant chunk of the market in 2013,“ said senior analyst Patrick Connolly. “From a competitive point of view, projected GPS IC shipment estimates indicate leading watch, fitness apparel, and electronics vendors are planning to release new products in this space in 2013. In 2012, Motorola’s MOTOACTV watch was a great example of how a new entrant can instantly win market share with a strong feature set and good price point.”
ABI Research also believes that technology disruption in sport and fitness watches could come from smaller players, companies such as Leikr, Pebble, Basis, I’m Watch and Bia Sport.
What is interesting in this fitness and sport monitoring market is that the line is progressively blurring between hardcore athlete-dedicated products and simple fitness enthusiasts. GPS watches are getting smaller, lighter and more affordable while pedometer are embedding more sensors and getting more expensive. As an example the latest Timex GPS watch costs $99, same price as the Fitbit fitness tracker.
A new breed of fitness monitoring start-ups (Fitbit, Fitbug, Withings, Bodymedia) with a “health“ focus - rather than a “performance“ focus - are entering this market, bringing a new approach to body monitoring, with an always-on component. It is clear there will be overlaps between these two markets and clearly a company such as Nike is playing on the two sides of the fence with in one hand their GPS watch (co-developed with TomTom) and in the other hand their Fuelband.
The R&D efforts of these start-up (including sleep pattern, sleep monitoring) could very well be applied to the performance/athlete side of the market and make the GPS watches maker - such as Garmin, Suunto, Polar, Timex - look very old school in the next couple of years.
Besides a tide of new products, this is likely to create a wave of consolidation/acquisition on the market.