GPS fitness devices forecast to surpass 10 million in shipments

According to marketing research firm ABI Research (Oyster Bay, N.Y., U.S.A.), the launch of Nike and TomTom’s (Amsterdam, Netherlands) GPS fitness watch has given the market the shot in the arm it needed, with new devices, applications, and companies helping to drive forecasts for fitness GPS shipments beyond the 10 million mark.

Released in January, the Nike+ SportWatch GPS is able to calculate location information, distance, pace and calories burnt, according to TomTom. GPS receivers powered by TomTom work with sensors inside the shoe to deliver data throughout the run.

Since Nike and TomTom’s GPS watch release, Garmin (Olathe, Kan., U.S.A.) has released its first GPS touchscreen watch, the Forerunner 610, through its Outdoor and Fitness division.

Garmin’s Outdoor and Fitness division delivered 27% of the company's total operating income for 2010, and saw a 25% increase in fitness sales for 2Q11, according to ABI Research.

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

Other companies such as Polar, Citizen, and Casio have also made announcements around new GPS fitness devices. Polar launched its RCX5 training computer, which features a GPS accessory. Citizen has also taken steps to integrate GPS into its watches with the Appleseed, according to ABI Research. Although the watch has no clear fitness application, the GPS technology is expected to filter into future watch lines. Additionally, Casio announced its prototype watch that features Bluetooth 4.0 for smartphone synching, says the research firm. It has stated that it plans to incorporate public transport and fitness functionality via GPS in the near future.

Fitness remains a key segment at the major application stores. Companies like Runkeeper, Nike, and MapMyRun continue to attract new users and investigate new business models, according to ABI Research.

“There has also been a dearth of health/fitness devices launched on the market in 1H11, from companies such as Basis, Fitbit, Jawbone, Bodymedia, Philips and Hitachi,” said Dominique Bonte, telematics and navigation practice director. “Many have indicated that GPS is part of their future plans.”

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