State of GPS Running Watches in India

What brands of watches do runners wear when running half marathons and marathons in India? Are phones still popular despite the inconvenience of carrying them around while running? What brands lead the way in some of the biggest events in India?

I have been thinking of doing this for a long time, and finally, I was able to do the data lifting required to get the runner’s data available publicly from Strava, and get a sense of what devices do runners use when running marathons. So, with that out of the way, lets get down to business, shall we.

ADHM 2016 Runners Data: Summary

656 runners were identified as using some sort of GPS device on them. For reference the number of finishers at ADHM was 7732, so we have data for 8.5 percent of the finishers. To clarify, 656 does not represent the actual number of runners who had GPS on them while running, but is likely a big subset of that data. Would I be able to get more accurate numbers of actual usage? Yes, it just needs more time investment and data digging. But when I started on this article, I was more interested in the breakup of these numbers, how phones vs watches stack up, and the relative share of the brand presence. Maybe some day, I will dive deeper.

So, how did things finally stack up? Truth be told, I was a bit surprised by the high use of mobile phones, both Android and iPhones. Almost half (46 percent) of the users with GPS on them used their mobile phones for the purpose. Garmin continues to lead in the overall GPS watch market with 33.1 percent, given their presence for a long time in the country. But the recent entrant, TomTom, have built up a sizable presence with 15.9 percent, in a relatively short time. What’s more interesting is that other players in the market like Fitbit, Suunto and Polar are hardly a factor with very limited presence.

Phone App30346.2

ADHM 2016 Runners Data: Detailed

Detailed data provides more interesting stats. One is the high percentage of iPhone users, compared to Android users in spite of iPhones just having 2% of the India phone market. Runners seem to have a higher percentage of iPhones compared to the overall iPhone users market share, and they are not afraid to use them on their runs!

The other interesting data is the TomTom watch being the single most popular watch model in the Indian market, by a big margin. Truth be told, they do have two models in the market, TomTom Runner and TomTom Spark, but Strava reports them as one. Even if that would not have been the case, TomTom would be the leader here.

Strava Android App16725.5
Strava iPhone App13620.7
TomTom GPS Sport Watch10415.9
Garmin fenix 3426.4
Garmin Forerunner 220314.7
Garmin Forerunner 235253.8
Garmin Forerunner 620203.0
Garmin Forerunner 310XT182.7
Garmin Forerunner 920XT172.6
Fitbit Surge111.7
Garmin Forerunner 15111.7
Garmin Vívoactive111.7
Garmin Forerunner 22591.4
Garmin Forerunner 73560.9
Garmin Vívoactive HR50.8
Garmin Forerunner 1040.6
Garmin Forerunner 23040.6
Garmin Forerunner 910XT40.6
Garmin Forerunner 40530.5
Garmin Forerunner 2520.3
Garmin Forerunner 41020.3
Garmin epix10.2
Garmin fenix 210.2
Garmin Forerunner 61010.2
Polar M40010.2

SCMM 2017 Runners Data: Summary

We have a higher numbers captured here compared to ADHM, 928 runners. I focussed on getting the data for full marathon runners, but I am sure what I actually got was a mix, half and full marathon runners included. SCMM had 4680 marathon and 11991 half marathon finishers, so we are looking at data for 5.5 percent of finishers, compared to 8.5 percent I got for ADHM. This probably means I missed capturing more half marathon runners data.

The one surprising figure here compared to ADHM is that mobile phone usage at SCMM was lower by a massive 10%, from 46.2 to 36 percent. This means that the Mumbai audience is probably more exposed/aware about the GPS running watches, which would not be surprising to those who follow the two markets, and have seen the efforts of the brands in these markets. This 10% drop in the mobile phone usage is complemented by a 12% higher share for Garmin, who command 45.3% in Mumbai, a reflection of having a stronger vendor presence over a longer period of time.

Phone App33436.0

SCMM 2017 Runners Data: Detailed

One aspect which surprises looking at the detailed stats is how some of the highest priced model lead the charts, TomTom being the exception and the leader. For example, Garmin Fenix 3, and Garmin Forerunner 235 lead among Garmin watches, in spite being two of the costliest watches in the Garmin stable.

What’s perhaps more surprising is that the Garmin entry level variants, the Garmin Forerunner 10 and 15 hardly have any significant presence. For a marathon, this is likely because a typical marathon runner would perhaps avoid at least a Forerunner 10 as it would be difficult to make it through a marathon with the watch still running, due to the lower battery capacity. But, for a half marathon I was expecting these numbers to be much higher, but surprisingly are not. Which probably means that novice runners or runners happy with a decent basic functional capability set, and those looking at value for money options are sticking to the king of VFW, the TomTom Runner and Spark.

Strava Android App20321.9
Strava iPhone App13114.1
TomTom GPS Sport Watch12413.4
Garmin fenix 3616.6
Garmin Forerunner 235606.5
Garmin Forerunner 920XT454.8
Garmin Forerunner 220404.3
Garmin Forerunner 310XT313.3
Garmin Forerunner 225293.1
Garmin Vívoactive212.3
Garmin fenix 2181.9
Garmin Vívoactive HR181.9
Fitbit Surge151.6
Garmin Forerunner 620151.6
Garmin Forerunner 15141.5
Garmin Forerunner 910XT141.5
Garmin Forerunner 230131.4
Garmin Forerunner 735121.3
Garmin Forerunner 1050.5
Garmin Forerunner 2550.5
Garmin Forerunner 63040.4
Garmin fenix30.3
Garmin Forerunner 40530.3
Garmin Forerunner 61030.3
Garmin epix20.2
Garmin Forerunner 21020.2
Polar V80020.2
Garmin Forerunner 3510.1
Garmin Forerunner 41010.1
GPX File10.1

So, that was a quick gist of what I found looking at the data. Did you notice anything interesting which I may have missed, do share in comments below.


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