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With 2014 already in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead to 2015, and what better way to do that than by looking at how each manufacturer ended the year and thinking about what products we can expect from them in 2015.
Let's start with the Kansas firm, market leader in GPS watches. They ended 2014 by solving the problems they had with their flagship product, the 920xt. Some of the first units suffered from waterproofing and battery life problems, so they had to carry out a replacement program. If you want to know if your watch can be among those affected, the best thing to do is to hereThis has not only affected the image of the 920xt, clearly damaged (if a triathlon watch is not capable of withstanding water, badly...) It has stopped the entire production chain, creating long waiting lists to take over a unit and has left the market without supplies for such important dates as Christmas.
In the rest of the range everything seems to be quiet, although there are many rumors about a replacement for the Fenix 2 (Fenix 3, I guess). The only thing known is a supposed specification sheet where the most outstanding thing is a new color screen with higher resolution and support for ANT+ and Bluetooth connections simultaneously, both quite logical, as it is what the current model lacks the most.
The Forerunner 620 and 220 were presented a little over a year ago, I don't think there will be any major new developments in this range during 2015, especially since the 620 is still the reference as a watch for riders and the 220 could still be if Polar hadn't launched its M400 at a much lower price. Both models have reached their maturity, so I would venture a reduction in their price, to combat Polar's attacks.
The most basic range, the Forerunner 15, will remain unchanged. This model has only been on the market for a few months, so I don't expect anything new in the short/medium term.
For those of you who don't know, the idea behind this is to open up the development of applications for clocks to external developers. Uses? Mainly, to allow other manufacturers to integrate their products with Garmin clocks. To give you an example, compatibility between clocks with BSXinsight's non-invasive lactate sensorYou can also create widgets, graphics, images for the clock (like any smart watch), etc. In other words, from now on Garmin clocks will be open to other companies' applications. I'm looking forward to seeing where Connect IQ is headed.
Polar is well positioned for 2015. On the one hand, they have solved the most serious shortcomings they had regarding their products. They finally incorporated pool metrics into the V800, something their owners had been waiting for since its launch. And on the other hand, they have already incorporated support for Android phones for synchronization, and now it is possible to connect both the M400 and the V800 to this platform. In addition, with the new firmware update for both watches, along with the update in Polar Flow, it is possible to create workouts with pace targets, something we were also looking forward to.
So, Polar starts 2015 with a lot of things to do. All we will see in 2015 from Polar will be in the sense of updates. In the V800 we still have to implement the open water swimming profile, which will allow us to measure distances. But where we will see more improvements will be in the software section, in Polar Flow. The web platform is still in beta status, and they keep adding new features. If there is something that V800 users miss is of course the ability to import navigation routes. I am not talking about creating them anymore, for which they need a lot of development and I think we will never see it integrated in the service itself, but at least we will be able to create them with other tools (wikiloc, for example) and upload them directly from Polar Flow without having to walk around so much.
Suunto is similar to Polar, but with a big difference. They arrive in 2015 with the task done. They have a very solid product in the market, launched a few months ago, which is the continuation of a range already mature. They have no web platform to update, nor shortcomings to cover in their watches.
With a range consisting of the Ambit3 Sport and Ambit3 Peak, both at the top, along with the models presented in 2013 (Ambit2 R, Ambit2 S and Ambit2) the only thing you could expect on your part is lower performance versions of the Ambit3, to lower its price and do the same as they did with the R and S ranges of the Ambit2.
TomTom will continue to rely on optical pulse sensor technology, licensed to Mio. I don't expect any major new developments from them, perhaps improving the online platform which, compared to the competition, is quite limited. As for watches, their product is mainly focused on less demanding runners in terms of training and data, so with their current range (with and without optical sensor) they have their target audience fully covered.
The Germans are in no man's land. It is clear that the GPS watch sector is not theirs, and with a range consisting exclusively of one model, the MiCoach Smart Run, it is easy to keep track of them. It was introduced barely a year ago, with the latest technology we could think of then, and is still at the forefront of other manufacturers. It is the only watch that includes an optical pulse sensor, color touch screen, music reproduction directly from the device and WiFi connectivity. We have seen all these things in watches from other brands, but not all in the same device. Perhaps the only thing they forgot to include is a battery with the capacity to support all that technological deployment...
Do I expect anything from Adidas by 2015? I really don't think they will surprise us with anything new during 2015.
If there is one thing we hope to see in 2015, it is to finally know everything the Apple Watch will be able to do and which markets it is targeting, because at the moment we know very little about it. Will it really be a reference, not only as a Smart Watch, but also in the world of sport? In its presentation, Apple was concerned with emphasizing the sporting features of its new device, so we have to check whether these expectations are met.
There are not many more details. During 2015 we will get answers to all the questions we have.
Google (Android Wear)
Google is on a similar path to Apple's. They have just arrived in the industry and don't know exactly where to go with Android Wear, apart from their own sector. However, they already support optical pulse sensors (which are quite poorly functioning at the moment) and integrated GPS (Sony Smartwatch 3). But so far the manufacturers have not been able to take advantage of these features, and we still haven't seen a watch designed more for running than as an activity monitor, which is where I would place them right now.
This year 2015 we will see a new evolution of watches with Android Wear, probably after Apple officially launches Watch. So we have to wait until the middle of the year to know what they have in mind. But if I am honest, I would love to see a Garmin, Polar or Suunto with Android Wear integrated...
If there's anyone big companies should fear, it's precisely those new companies being born in Silicon Valley. Above all, because there's something that industry leaders are having a hard time understanding. The future, their future, lies in the development of software for their devices.
In the field of hardware, practically everything has already been invented, but where we will find important innovations is in the implementation of new features or ways of doing the same as before, but in a more ingenious and simple way.
This is something that I have been able to observe following the development of the latest models of Polar, and that is that they are not dedicating (not only Polar, it is something general for the whole sector) enough resources to the engineering departments, which are clearly overloaded and are not able to keep up with the pace imposed by a much more dynamic market.
No importance is being given to software, to feature implementation, to online tracking platforms, to the social factor of all devices. And it is precisely in this aspect that any small developer, backed by immense capital coming from venture capital funds, can turn the market around in less than 6 months. Something that neither Garmin, Polar nor Suunto are prepared for. And they must prepare themselves, because everything moves much faster than we think.
The year of the wearables
2015 will undoubtedly be the year of the wearables. We will see a market flooded with proposals from all the technology manufacturers, and for the moment Microsoft is already ahead of us with BandFitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, Polar, Nike... all these companies already have devices of this type in the market, but I am sure that in 2015 all of them will renew their proposals with small novelties, with optical pulse sensors (not for continuous measurement) or even adding GPS receivers.