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Comment: As Apple dominates smartwatch market, Garmin has crazy justification for $2500 model

When it comes to the smartwatch market, there’s Apple and then everyone else. The most recent data suggests that the Apple Watch has as many sales as all other smartwatch models put together. Garmin smartwatches fall into fourth place.

Apple has a sizable lead with a 50 percent share of the smartwatch market […]

Those shipment numbers put Apple at the top of the smartwatch industry, with Fitbit in a distant second at 5.5 million units shipped in all of 2018. Samsung is in third with 5.3 million units shipped, followed by Garmin at 3.2 million.

But unusually, Apple doesn’t offer the most expensive model among mainstream brands …

An Apple Watch Series 4 ranges from $399 to $799 depending on the band, while the most expensive model you can currently buy is the Hermès with Ébène Barenia Leather Single Tour Deployment Buckle at $1499. The Series 3 is available from the company’s official Amazon store for as little as $199.

Garmin’s latest smartwatch line, in contrast, ranges from $1500 to $2500. As CNET notes, that’s not only way above the $900 upper end it established with an earlier ‘luxury’ model, but even puts it above Montblanc and some Tag Heuer models.

But what astonishes me about this is not that a brand chooses to push its pricing above those of Apple, but the basis on which it does it. Here’s CNET‘s run-down of the five luxury models:

The MARQ Aviator has aviation maps, plus “Nexrad Weather Radar, airport information and Garmin cockpit integration.”

The MARQ Driver, with a titanium and silicone band, comes loaded with maps for 250 famous race tracks. It has “auto lap splits, live delta time and a track timer.”

The MARQ Captain, a nautical watch, has a regatta timer bezel, shows wind speed, tide and temperature. It also comes with a port conditions watch face, can show coastal charts and can aid in tack assist.

The MARQ Expedition connects with Garmin’s separately sold satellite communicator, InReach Mini, plus “TOPO mapping, a built-in altimeter, barometer and compass, plus ClimbPro, which provides real-time information on current and upcoming climbs such as gradient, distance and elevation gain.”

The MARQ Athlete is the closest to Garmin’s other fitness watches, with VO2 Max readouts and recovery on the watch face, “running dynamics,” and pulse oximetry readings.

Yes, you did read that right: the key difference between the five models is essentially the apps they offer. Taking the previous $900 model as the basis for comparison, Garmin is charging between $600 and $1600 for … watch apps.

Let’s hope Apple isn’t, uh, watching …

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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