Magellan enters fitness market; targets runners, cyclists, swimmers

Magellan GPS will enter the fitness field in spring 2012, targeting athletic niche markets to make up for business lost to smartphones in automotive and urban navigation.
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Magellan GPS will enter the fitness field in spring 2012, targeting athletic niche markets to make up for business lost to smartphones in automotive and urban navigation.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company, which already has a stake in the outdoor navigation market, will launch its fitness line with two new GPS watches. The Switch (MSRP $250) and Switch Up (MSRP $300) are geared toward runners, but can crossover to cyclists and swimmers, Magellan Senior Director of Fitness Clark Weber told SNEWS.

“A lot of core athletes have one sport, such as running, but they have other interests, such as cycling or swimming,” Weber said. “These products will attract the core athletes who are consumed with working out and analyzing the data.”

While Magellan’s first products focus on the outdoor fitness market, they do come with ANT+ sensor for use with compatible cardio equipment, Weber said.

It isn’t new to see a GPS manufacturer target fitness — Magellan’s rival Garmin entered the market several years ago. In fact, Weber and his new fitness team at Magellan mostly come from Garmin, having switched companies after Garmin closed its California offices to consolidate in Kansas.

Weber said Magellan’s differentiation strategy is to focus on the ease of use of its fitness products. Triathletes, for example, can purchase the Switch Up with a multi-sport mounting kit to move the device seamlessy from the wrist to bike, while the device tracks the entire workout or race from start to finish.

Easy sharing and integration of data with third-party websites is another goal for Magellan, Weber said. The company has plans for a fitness hub website, where users can upload their data, then send it to sites and apps such as TrainingPeaks, Strava or RunKeeper.

“They will always have all their data in one place, no matter what additional sites they choose to use,” Weber said. “So if a new site or app comes up, they’ll be able to transfer the entire history, not have to start from scratch.”

Weber admitted it won’t be long before smartphones compete in the fitness market as well. Already, there are a variety of fitness smartphone apps, and SNEWS reported last week about Apple’s interest to further expand its reach into fitness.

“Our direction will be to deliver more dedicated devices and ways to enhance the features on a smartphone, Weber said, “not to compete, but to enhance.”

--David Clucas

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