Saturday, March 23, 2013

Survey Says!

Courtesy of Family Feud
Some of you loyal followers might remember that I had a post back in September about a boating mobile device survey.  
The folks at Electric Pocket did the survey and compiled the data and results. They are the same great people who have developed the Boat Beacon and Compass Eye apps that I have reviewed earlier in this blog.
The survey had 23 questions about the use of smart phones, tablet and apps on boats. Kevin Doel was kind enough to share the results with me to create this post. He also offered to give away two apps to people who comment on this post.
So please comment below on this post and I will select two lucky winners at random to receive a free copy of a Boat Beacon $9.99 or a Compass Eye $4.99 app.  Make sure to include your email.
Well, the survey results are in and as Richard Dawson would say on the Family Feud game show, "the survey says".
There were about 100 people who took the survey. Not as many as I would have hoped for but it did yield some interesting results about the use of mobile devices.
Of the respondents, 64% of the boaters are from coastal waters, while 28% sail inland and 8% on an ocean.
87% use a smart phone or tablet device on their boat. This seemed like a high number but given the popularity of phones, tablets and marine apps it is not surprising.
Of those who use a device while boating 60% use an iOS device while 29% use an Android device.  I expected the numbers to be closer given the growth of Android phones and devices on the market.  It still shows that the iOS devices are among the favored phones and tablets for mariners.  Most of the marine app developers are still focused on iOS at this point.   I expect that to change as Android earns more market share.
90% of the boaters look for apps to use on their boat.  If you are smart you go to i-Marine Apps for all the greatest reviews.  The two most common sources being the Apple and Google App Stores (64%) and web forums and blogs (44%).  This again shows the prolific use of apps for marine use.
The next question dealt with the use of phones vs tablets.  51% use smart phones primarily for marine apps while 49% use tablets.  I would have thought the use of tablets would have been higher due to the larger screen format.
Two of the main problems noted when using smart phones and tablets on a boat are that they are not waterproof (69%) and they offer poor visibility in the direct sunlight (52%). 

The addition of a waterproof case such as the LifeProof iPhone or iPad can solve one of these problems.  As far as visibility there are a few anti glare films that can be placed over the screen to help some what.

91% of respondents indicated they use a weather app.  This number did not surprise me because if your a boater you should be paying particular attention to the weather conditions around you to insure a safe and fun day on the water. Intellicast Boating is one of my favorites. It includes NOAA marine charts overlays too.

40.5% rate their cellular data coverage where they sail as Good, while 23% rate their coverage as Excellent. Only 9.5% rate their cellular coverage as Poor or Very Poor.  Since 92% of the boaters responding were coastal or inland cruisers one would expect cell service in these areas to be decent.  Cellular service is key for real time weather updates and points of interest and Internet based AIS ship data.  There are many apps that do not need the Internet for charting and points of interest.
Over 60% have tried using AIS apps and over 80% think Internet-based AIS is a good idea.  AIS is becoming more popular especially in coastal areas with shipping traffic.  Internet based apps are cost effective but due have their limitations.  The only true way to prevent your yacht from getting run down by these big boys is to have an actual AIS transponder that will broadcast your location to surrounding ships. 
That was the extent of the survey. I think it fairly reflects the use of mobile devices by boaters today.  It is no surprise that boaters are using mobile technology while they are on the water.  Most have a phone or tablet that they already use at home or on the go.  These devices are portable with long battery life and plenty of storage to take along charting, instrument, AIS and weather apps.  Most devices can double as a source of entertainment with storage for music, books and movie collections.

Courtesy AirplaneNut
The world has a love affair with technology, and so do I.  It is only a matter of time before these devices take over the heavy lifting on board and become the main source of marine navigation. The transition is already happening on my boat.  Some say that they are not reliable enough, I beg to differ.  If it is reliable enough for the FAA and the airlines it should work for me. 

Lightning struck our boat and took out the on board Garmin Chart plotter and GPS.  I have been using my reliable iPad since then with perfect results. I may just scrap the old Garmin units and give the iPad a real test.  If that fails I can always pull out my iPhone as a back up.

What do you think? Are mobile devices and tablets ready for prime time on your boat?

~~~ Sail On~~~ /)


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