Early stage startup marketing & community management + the great outdoors.

My Wish List for @Garmin ($GRMN)

 Garmin is, hands down, some of the best GPS and heart rate hardware.  Their software, however, leaves something to be desired.  In fact, they leave a few things to be desired.

I’ll skip over some of the technical complaints (like site or product bugs – search Amazon reviews for those) and just give a high level wish list where I think Garmin could really capture a lot more stickiness with users and, eventually, gain much more market share.  Of course, this is strictly in regards to their exercise equipment and not their automobile GPS units, although some of the ideas could probably apply to both.

  1. Social – This should be so basic in 2012.  I want to follow friends routes, share with Facebook, compare stats against friends… all the data is available, it’s just not being capitalized.  There is a reason why “gamification” is such a huge buzzword right now, since social is driving user behavior.  Garmin has potential for this, too.  You could create virtual races with your friends or cycling groups.  It would allow people to participate in virtual race courses, preset with a Garmin course, that they can ride anytime they like to compare to others results.  This would also help address privacy options.  It’s terrible that routes are limited to two privacy settings: Private, or Public.  Even a third option, accessible via URL only, would be a huge improvement.  Buying a site like DailyMile or Strava, with their gorgeous UI layer, could be an easy add-on.
  2. Integration with iPhone – If the iPhone could be recognized as a device (via Blue Tooth) you could have live Garmin data feed to Facebook.  This would allow in-exercise cheers (similar to what Nike+ GPS does today) as well as allow safety check ins (similar to what SPOT does today).  Both are features I’d love to use for meeting up with people or just letting my family know where I am.
  3. Joint Mapping Ability – this might fall under the social bullet, but it’s something specific I’ve been looking to do recently with friends.  We’re trying to string together some nice rides where everyone knows different areas of roads.  It would be nice if we could crowdsource the map creation among the 4-5 of us so we all have joint edit ability.
  4. Ability to rate sections of roads or trails thumbs up or down, a la Tivo.  Tivo has made a huge business model off this simplicity.  Image how much more valuable courses would be if there was a data overlay of ratings?  Huge.
  5. A heat map of ALL your exercises – how awesome would it be to be able to see heat maps of the road you’ve ridden recently, in the past year, or all time?  I could see the areas of eastern-Mass that I have yet to uncover.  Combined with a social layer, I could see the most popular roads my friends ride, too.  Example below (via @CrosbyCJ)
  6. More Data – year over year analysis to start with, but more data to determine how my performance is doing over time.  Heart rate v. speed, date v. miles logged, etc.

As an owner of the Garmin Forerunner 305 and Garmin Edge 800 I have a few product requests, too, but for the most part I think Garmin stands the most to benefit from their core web-integration.  Making these few improvements would not only set they above their competitors like Polar (and increasingly the iPhone and smart phones) but make it drastically more difficult for people to leave their products.


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