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Does the Apple Watch Sports go the distance for runners?

Jen A. Miller | May 26, 2015
Apple Watch owners have had their new smartwatches for only a short time, but the early indications are the Apple Watch could be a run-away hit for some serious runners and running on empty for others.

"More sophisticated athletes who are hoping to track speed and path and potentially altitude may lean towards a specialty device," says Anderson. Another potential problem: Most current fitness trackers don't need to fit tightly in order to work, as the Apple Watch does. She says that fit may not appeal to athletes. Wrist tattoos may also interfere with the Apple Watch's heart rate tracking ability.

Dalek says he's disappointed that while the Apple Watch does sync with third-party fitness apps, it doesn't allow those apps to overlay your workout on a map (he says he confirmed this with Apple).

So while he could do that through Garmin Sync for the Big Sur International Marathon, he couldn't with the Apple Watch Sport. For runners who like share those maps on social media, it's a gap in what the product offers.

The price could be a sticking point too. Dalek's Garmine Forerunner 10 retails for $129.99, and other popular, basic devices are under $200. The Apple Watch Sport costs $349 -$399.

"If a runner already intends to buy a fitness band or GPS-enabled watch, the Apple Watch will cost $150 to $250 more than what they already had budgeted, with added features and connectivity, which for some will increase the value of a smartwatch," Anderson said. Those extras could make the watch feel not quite as expensive.

The Not-So Ugly

"The Apple stamp is on it, for better or for worse. It's differentiated from everybody else," Llamas said.

The design of the Apple Watch is less clunky than some fitness trackers, and could appeal to runners who want a device they can wear on the road and in the office, too, without it sticking out.

Llamas also says that durability will be a factor in how the device does with runners, too, especially at that price point. "Do you want to get it all sweaty and nicked up because let's face it: runners do fall on occasion. We bump against other people," he said. Dalek hasn't experienced any problems yet, but when interviewed he'd been using it for less than a week.

Still, as always with an Apple product, this watch is still expected to change the industry.

"We watched the iPhone disrupt the mobile market with strategic capability convergence and I'm seeing the beginnings of the same trend with smartwatches," said Anderson. "Manufacturers of fitness trackers should keep a very close eye on Apple Watch performance."


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