Polar isn't as big a name in fitness watches as competitors like Garmin, but it believes it has a way to extend its footprint: license its technology to those rivals. The company is now making 25 fitness algorithms available to some companies. "Powered by Polar" watches can use the brand's activity, health and sleep tracking know-how in combination with their own hardware and services. Third parties won't have to pour years of research into their products just to get started, Polar claims.
The first watch to use Polar's framework is Casio's new G-Shock G-Squad GBD-H2000. There aren't many official details at tis stage, but the sequel to the GBD-H1000 is expected to feature a similarly chunky design while adding Polar's fitness science and a gyroscope. It should still include solar-assisted charging, GPS and a host of sensors that include an altimeter, barometer, compass and thermometer.
Polar isn't a complete stranger to offering fitness tech to business customers, such as online tracking tools. It has solutions for coaches, fitness classes, schools and teams. However, this is the first time it's providing tech directly to the competition. In theory, this brings advanced fitness tracking to a wider range of devices, and might let watchmakers consider fitness products that simply weren't options before now.
To some extent, though, this is an acknowledgment that Polar's in-house watches aren't the strongest sellers. The firm describes itself as a "top 10 player" in wearables, but that still leaves it trailing the heavyweights. Garmin was the only fitness-first watch brand whose shipments cracked the top five in the second quarter of 2022, according to Canalys estimates, and it had 5.5 percent of the market. Algorithm licensing could help Polar boost its profits and influence regardless of how its device sales fare.