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Competition with Apple is Both Deadly and Fruitful. Garmin Proved it by Building Epic Garmin Connect App!

From $9 in 2002 to $110 in 2008,
shrinking down to $19 in 2009,
to again raise $171 in 2021.
Garmin’s stock price journey is enough to tell us how brutal competition it faced and how strongly it persisted.
Buried deep under the sea of Garmin’s empire worth $19 billion,
let’s explore fascinating and not-so-well-known
1: Game-changing business strategies
2: Devastating failures
Of the Garmin brand.
(With many other things about its Garmin Connect app that results from its competition with Apple.)

Garmin was founded to leverage emerging GPS technology in 1989, but the US military appeared as a significant ‘competitor’.

Former employees of King Radio – Min Kao and Gary Burrel, founded Garmin in 1989.

Initially, they raised $5 million from family and friends.

They had the vision to build devices that leverage GPS technology.

However, there was a catch.

Unlike the US military version, the consumer version of GPS was less accurate and reliable.

That was done intentionally by the US government and military for security purposes.

Garmin could not build road navigation devices working on such a less accurate and reliable technology.

So, they changed the use case.

They built devices for marine where location accuracy was not as vital as road navigation.

And that worked!

Garmin targets a user group that was once its ‘competitor’ - the US military (Well, that requires guts and epic products!)

Be it its first product specifically built for marine navigation or its Garmin Fenix 3 watch; the US military has been Garmin’s most prestigious user group.

Talking specifically about the Garmin Fenix 3 watch, the US military had issued it to every F/A-18 Hornet and E/A-18G Growler pilot.

The watch’s altimeter feature is capable of saving lives.

It warns the pilots when the cabin altitude reaches a certain threshold preset so that pilots can put on their supplemental oxygen.

Between 1990 to 2008, Garmin built its empire on GPS technology, but then it backfired (Apple was the culprit!)

Garmin-engineered small personal GPS devices that can be used anywhere – in a car or while hiking.

The concept of personal GPS devices and their significant use cases fueled the growth of Garmin in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The company went public in 2000 with a stock price of $14.

From revenue worth $236 million in 1999, Garmin grew to a peak of $3.5 billion of revenue by the end of 2008.

But along with Garmin, its competitors were also growing.

The President of the United States had already ordered the US military to stop scrambling GPS technology.

This order opened a new door of opportunities for other technology companies.

And Apple grabbed that entire door!

The co-founder of Garmin never felt afraid of smartphones until Apple proved him wrong.

With the launch of the iPhone, equipped with a precise navigation system, things started falling apart for Garmin.

People now have a more portable and affordable navigation system bundled with the smartphone they keep all the time.

The 2009 financial crisis made things worse for Garmin.

Ironically, in an interview given by the co-founder of Garmin in 2003, he mentioned that smartphone companies lack knowledge about the GPS market.

Garmin CEO

The biggest mistake Garmin made was they did not have any IP that could prevent Google and Apple from using the same tech Garmin was capitalizing on in the same manner.

Apple made Garmin build its first mobile app (Garmin 2.0 was about to be born!)

To survive the rising competition, Garmin built a navigation app in 2012-13.

But it did not work out. It miserably failed.

However, that failure gifted several game-changing learnings to the Garmin team, which they later leveraged while building the Garmin Connect app.

Not only this, but Garmin also built a mobile phone with the partnership of Asus.

But that also failed.

Meanwhile, while making its path from market competition, Garmin found a new market and shifted its focus over there – which turned out to be Garmin’s billion-dollar successful bet!

Garmin 2.0 was here. Healthcare (wellness + fitness) was Garmin’s new darling.

Garmin launched 100 products in a single year in 5 different market segments.

The fitness and wellness market emerged as their major growth magnet.

Their smartwatches became an instant hit among fitness lovers.

Though Apple also appeared as its primary competitor, Garmin, this time nailed it.

Bundled with extra features than Apple watches and aggressively decided prices gave Garmin an upper edge.

Another thing Garmin did exceptionally well was the perfect software (Garmin Connect app) for the perfect hardware (smartwatches and other fitness devices.)

Garmin connect app

Garmin Connect App: Reason the brand is still thriving

This time, Garmin did not make any mistakes.

They built the best smartwatches and other fitness devices.

And they also built the best fitness mobile app that can be paired with those devices.

Because perfectly designed and built hardware does not give an engaging user experience if an epic mobile app does not accompany it.

Here is an example.

The fitness device is your car, and at the same time, the mobile app is its instrument cluster.

You get to know your driving dynamic, car’s performance, status, and several other important things from that instrument cluster.

The more detailed and feature-rich it is, the more pleasing your car driving experience becomes!

A few amazing features of the Garmin Connect app

Garmin had already messed up its navigation app.

So, the team knew what worked and what did not.

The Garmin Connect app is a nifty app for fitness and wellness.

Its features are so well-positioned that it would never add extra complexity to the app while ensuring the highest level of user experience.

The following are some of our favorite Garmin Connect mobile app features.

(If you are planning to build an app like Garmin Connect and fall short on budget, we suggest adding these features only, and you are done!)

1: A Personalized My Day Page

This feature is all about knowing what matters most to each user – using AI techniques and then showing only the data that matter most to her/him – be it heart rate, steps, stress level, etc.

Going personalized is key to engaging users.

Garmin mobile app first page

2: Statistics

Showing progress toward goals with daily fitness activities in a graphical format gives clarity to users.

This feature does exactly the same.

It also analyzes the overall progress and gives major highlights for quick tracking of progress.

3: Customized Workout Plans

Users set the goal, and the app takes care of the rest – it suggests customized workout plans to each user based on their set goal and other wellness data.

Not only this but the app reminds users of fitness activities and also shares a detailed progress report.

4: Sync with Other Apps

Garmin knows the power of the ecosystem, and thus, it creates one by allowing users to sync the Garmin Connect app with other fitness apps such as Apple Health, MyFitnessPal, and Strava.

5: Earn Badges

Garmin Connect mobile app gifts a sense of achievement for every small milestone in the form of badges.

This keeps users motivated.

Garmin Badges

Core technologies Garmin Connect app was built on

We are not going to talk about its frontend and backend technologies but the core technologies that directly influence the original concept of the app and its user experience.

Garmin Connect mobile app leverages the two most cutting-edge technologies – IoT and AI.

1: IoT

Using the IoT technology, the Garmin Connect app establishes a connection with Garmin hardware devices such as smartwatches.

The MQTT protocol is used for communication between an app and a Garmin smartwatch.

In addition, the smartwatch is armed with an IoT controller that controls all command processing and data-sharing functions.

2: AI

Personalized user experience is essential for keeping users engaged.

And here is where nothing can replace AI.

AI understands each user’s preference and serves them with the content, service, and feature that matters most to that individual.

With such a personalized delivery, users are less likely to get bored and uninstall the app.

So, for the sustainable future of any mobile app, AI plays a vital role.

Garmin has a global strategy for its Garmin Connect app when minimalism is a trend.

The majority of healthcare and fitness brands are either country-specific or continent-specific.

They don’t go beyond certain boundaries as they involve many marketing, technological, and logistics efforts.

However, Garmin chose to be a global brand with its outstanding hardware and software experience.

The following are the top countries where the Garmin Connect app is top-rated.

  • United States
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • South Africa
  • Italy
  • Denmark
  • Switzerland
  • Ireland
  • Spain
  • New Zealand
  • Sweden
  • Poland

We strongly anticipate these 4 future moves of Garmin.

When we merged our healthcare IT business experience and the top highlights of our research on Garmin, we came to know the possible 4 future moves of Garmin!

  • Garmin will soon shift its focus over remote patient monitoring as it already has an ecosystem for connected medical and fitness devices and software.
  • Garmin will target seniors on mass as the care delivery models in nursing homes and LTC homes have massively changed after the pandemic.
  • Garmin can tie up with Amazon as Amazon is desperately attempting to dominate the healthcare market while Garmin is trying to capture the entire healthcare market rather than just fitness.
  • Garmin will remain more focused on its software experience as the hardware is what it has already mastered!

Wondering who are we?

Well, we are a Canadian healthcare IT company – having the vision (and guts) to not let our kids experience the clogged up, delayed, and expensive healthcare we grew up experiencing! 

Check our Epic Stories here!