Saturday, November 4, 2017

Garmin Buys Navionics, What is Next

Very BIG news in the marine industry last week when we learned that Garmin acquired the Navionics Corporation. On October 27th Garmin issued a press release stating that they acquired the privately held Navionics company popular for their marine charts and mobile marine apps.

This comes on the heals of Garmin's purchase of the ActiveCaptain's crowd sourced marine database in May and the purchase earlier this year of Delorme which is known for their popular inReach two way satellite tracking and messaging device.

Wow, this bring up numerous questions and concerns as Garmin continues to gobble up the competition.  The purchase of these companies and their technology should give Garmin a real advantage over other chartplotter and app providers on the market.
  • With Garmin purchasing Navionics, will they continue to provide charts to other manufacturers such as Raymarine, Simrad, B&G and others? 
  • Will they continue to support the Navionics and BlueChart Mobile apps?
  • Will Garmin continue to support the Navionics charts?
  • Will they continue to provide the Navionics app features such as auto routing and crowd sourced sonar charts?
  • Will they continue to provide the cost effective charts for app?
I am first excited because Garmin will hopefully bring all of this new technology into their main chart plotter products and continue to interface them with apps on mobile devices. This will spawn new features on their main line of products and make them the leader in the industry.

On the other hand I am more concerned that by gobbling up the competition the popular Navionics app will be no longer be available.  I have never been a big fan of the the Garmin BlueChart Mobile app.  It had a clunker interface and lacks many features we all wanted in a stand alone chart plotter app.  Garmin's BlueChart Mobile app was never build to be a stand alone marine app because Garmin did not want to cannibalize their chart plotter business.  They would rather have you spend $1000 on a chart plotter than $50 for an app.

As an avid Navionics app user I would hate to see the Navionics app disappear. Millions of sailors around the world use the Navionics apps on their mobile devices and to lose them would be a step back in time. I guess we have to wait and see what Garmin does with these new products.

Recent chatter on Facebook and other social media has already discovered that the Garmin's BlueChart Mobile app is not longer available in the iTunes Store.  This has many people upset since this app had a large following of users.  I can only guess that Garmin is working on a new iOS mobile app to replace it or will rely on the Navionics iOS apps going forward.  If you have the BlueChart Mobile app on your phone or tablet is should still continue to work. It will fail at some point when Apple upgrades the iOS software or Garmin no longer supports it. The BlueChart Mobile apps was popular because it supported the ActiveCaptain points of interest database.

There are a host of other apps that incorporate the ActiveCaptain crowd sourced data. Pick one of them to continue accessing the database and making reviews. SEAiq, Navimatics Charts and Tide, Skipper, Aqua Maps, Sailtimer and Plan2Nav are a few that support ActiveCapatain.

A new Garmin ActiveCaptain app for Android devices is available in the Google store. Looking at some of the reviews, people are having issues logging into ActiveCaptain and the price of charts is now $319.  I am not sure why the charts are so expensive.  Hopefully if you purchase the charts they would be available on all your devices including your chart plotter. No one is going to pay $319 for chart for just a mobile device. Maybe this is how Garmin plans to kill the mobile device charting apps.

Update November 11, the iOS version of the Garmin Active Captain app came this week also download it from the app store. I will do a full review of that in the near future.

The Navionics Apps appear to still be functional and available on the iTunes Store. I would expect some changes to these in the future as Garmin decides what to do with them. I would urge them to continue to support these apps due to the large number of active users worldwide.

With all of these acquisitions Garmin is strategically aligning itself to be a leader in the marine industry. My hope is that it will continue to support the already great mobile device apps out there instead of shelving them to spur on their chart plotter business. If they do not continue to support the Navionics apps I will be one upset sailor along with many others who use them everyday!

~~~ Sail On ~~~/)