Apple and Fitbit should be worried about Garmin's growing wearable presence

The flurry of products should be a concern for the major players
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

There's no doubt that Garmin is on a wearable technology charge. So far this year the company has announced over 10 new wearables across running, cycling, golf and 24/7 activity tracking and it shows no signs of stopping.

This week, Garmin announced the Vivosmart HR+, an update to the Vivosmart HR which throws built in GPS into the mix. A day later it unveiled the D2 Bravo aviator smartwatch, and the week before it was the Forerunner 735XT triathlon watch. Add in the Approach X40 golf band last month, and you have nearly every sport covered.

And it's not just beefy hardcore fitness devices. The Vivomove fitness tracker is the Garmin's first stab at a stylish analogue watch, and shows the company is intent on maximising its reach.

When I saw the Vivosmart HR+ pop up earlier this week, I was worried that Garmin was over-reaching, and might let quality slip. Too much diversity often leads to a lack of focus, something that's often seen in the smartphone world. Then I was reminded by what executive editor James had to say recently about smartwatches playing by different rules.

Apple and Fitbit should be worried about Garmin's growing wearable presence

It's something that could similarly be applied to Garmin's growing fitness wearable entourage. Garmin is launching a lot of new devices because there's an audience in which each individual probably has very different needs and demands from a fitness wearable. When you look it from that perspective, then it begins to make more sense.

We tend to talk about Fitbit and Apple when it comes to leading the wearable charge, but Garmin, with its rich pedigree in sports and fitness, is beginning to make its presence known. The company's recent earnings report suggests it's no longer a bit part player in this field. Research firm IDC also has the figures to back this up that Garmin is having a big say on the wearable front revealing that it's among the top five wearable vendors.

Garmin probably isn't going to have one hit smart sports watch or tracker (a trend the tech world loves) but, across its whole line of options, there could be something for everyone.

It certainly didn't feel like a big player when I picked up my first Garmin wearable a couple of years ago that's for sure. If anything, the first generation Vivosmart felt like a serious case of bandwagon jumping. A pretty uninspiring, drab looking fitness band that I'm pretty sure inspired the lacklustre Under Armour Band design. But underneath was the ingredients of a good wearable. It was waterproof, delivered solid battery life, plenty of data and wanted users to stay motivated and to keep moving.

But for many, fitness and health are one of the key benefits when choosing a smartwatch or wearable device. And while the likes of Apple and Google have struggled to integrate sport with any credibility, it's an open goal for Garmin.

It's providing better solutions to some of the biggest issues with fitness wearables and even smartwatches. It's doing a brilliant job with battery life, it's nailed notifications and is making data more meaningful.

Apple and Fitbit should be worried about Garmin's growing wearable presence

Of course, its weakness has always been design, but as we were told earlier this year, this is something that the company has been working on. We're still undecided on the Jonathan Adler/Vivofit 3 tie-up but the Vivomove is a step in the right direction.

Garmin is not ignoring software either. Garmin Connect is evolving and doesn't feel as daunting a place as it once was for fitness newbies. Connect IQ has nowhere near the developer support of the Apple Watch or probably ever will do, but I applaud Garmin's decision to try to open things up to add more features to its hardware, even if it's an additional data field on your smart running watch.

Garmin has sniffed an opportunity here. Fitbit still struggles to keep investors happy despite impressive sales figures and while Apple's share of the market grows, it's got a lot to prove with the fitness focused features of its smartwatch.

Garmin has the community, the user base, the experience and most importantly the hardware to suggest that if the announcements keep on coming, it's a sure sign that all is good in the Garmin household.

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

Related stories