Jeppesen & C-Map, “the game changes”?
As noted earlier today, the deal went down. Above is the scene this morning at C-Map USA’s Mashpee, Massachusetts, office as Operations Manager Chris Cox and General Manager Ken Cirillo unveil their new sign. Similar events took place at other C-Map offices around the world, and a press release went everywhere. The latter is a bit vague, but a Jeppesen spokesperson at the Denver headquarters gave me a little more color on what this acquisition may mean to marine electronics. The most specific item is that Jeppesen Marine’s recreational division, i.e. Nobeltec, will be integrating C-Map cartography into its products, though it may take six months or more, and the fate of Passport Charts is “yet to be determined”. Otherwise C-Map will be “business as usual”—i.e. same partners, sales outlets, and customer support facilities—at least during the six months it will take to integrate the company into Jeppesen. And the notion that C-Map’s hardware manufacturing facilities were not part of this deal, posted here back in August, was also confirmed.
As for that distinctly non-marine logo, the spokesman said they are working on a new branding scheme, but it’s hard to give up the plane after such longterm success serving that market. In fact, Jeppesen supplies 80–85% of commercial aviation operators with not just cartography, but weather, routing, and other essential data. At one point, the company printed two billion sheets of paper per year (!), though now, of course, this data has largely gone digital. Jeppesen is obviously an aviation powerhouse (and so was C-Map in the marine world), which is why the ad they’ve been running in some of the commercial marine magazines—now modified for C-Map’s home page—has weight. It reads, “What happens when a company with more than 70 years of experience pioneering navigational and operational information management solutions for aviators enters the marine market?…The game changes.” But, despite the hints, I guess we’ll have to wait to see exactly how.
The real question is does this drive former C-map customers, like Furuno, further into the arms of Navionics? Since Nobeltec is selling plotters, AIS, Radar, etc., why would Furuno want to be dependent on their competition for support? Why would they want to disclose to Nobeltec their new product lines while they’re under development?
Navionics is probably thrilled that Jeppesen has taken their primary competition off the market.
My guess is that Jeppensen will go after the commercial market very agressively and we recreational customers will see a more professional company, but not necessary a rush of new products or capabilities. Transas is the big loser in this deal as their customer is now going to be a fiece competitor for their commercial business.
I’m not so sure about that, Russ. I’ve heard folks at Nobeltec say that they don’t want to be in the hardware business, and it seems like Jeppesen has never tried to produce avionics hardware.
Counterpoint: I agree that Jeppensen doesn’t sell avionics. But Jeppesen has owned Nobeltec for a couple of years now and during that period they have significantly expanded their hardware offerings and the majority of the “improvements” in the newer versions of their s/w have to been to support the hardware products. If they don’t want to be in the h/w business then why are they selling hardware?
Right now they sell a plotter (VNS/Admiral + Nobeltec GPS + PC), radar, sounder, heading sensor and AIS. I don’t think these are “best of class” products, but if I was Raymarine, Garmin or Furuno it would look to me like competition. No such issue with Navionics.
Personally, I’d prefer to see them discontinue their hardware products and raise the game by improving the quality of the charts; we have plenty of h/w vendors. The C-map “Max Wides” for $199 will certainly put some price pressure on Navionics also, but it’s price pressure, not quality pressure.
Where does Garmin buy their “Blue Charts”?
Although they say that it will be business as usual at C-Map, I wonder if they will continue to promote their recent policy of exclusivity ie. that one software which is compatible with one of C-Map cartography can not be compatible simultaneously with any other cartography.
This has caused MaxSea to have to sell two different versions since 12.5, one for C-Map and one for all other cartography formats. They are obviously not very happy about this as can be seen from this entry in their knowledgebase:
“This new politic has been imposed by C-Map. MaxSea International strongly regrets it because it undermines MaxSea strategy and because it is totally against user interest. Unfortunately it is totally beyond MaxSea International control which apologies for the inconvenience.”
Of course it will affect any other chart software that wants to support multiple formats. Just one more reason for software manufacturers to avoid C-Map and possibly go with Navionics.