Most popular Panbo 2011 entries, themes for 2012?


Looking back at Panbo statistics for 2011, the iPad was undeniably a major topic. The February entry “iPad cases for the boat, & some interesting apps” was the most read of the year, by far, and the next up was the “The damn iPad: iNavX, X-Traverse, Navimatics & AC” entry written back in May, 2010 (when I was lusting for one). In addition, March’s “Accessory GPS for iPads…” came in at #5, and May’s “iPad GRIB viewers…” at 12. So should Panbo become iPanbo? Well, certainly a major goal here is to report on and discuss important trends in marine electronics, but understanding statistics like these involves a lot of nuance…

Occasionally, for instance, a Panbo entry “goes viral” when larger sites link to it and prompt a big spike in visitors. But the detailed stats for those two highly-visited iPad entries don’t reveal major referrals, just a steady stream of folks searching for information on how to use iPads on boats. I’m going to guess that apps and pads were big subjects at all the tech sites, and will continue to be so, and I know that there will be lots more for me to cover in 2012, particularly the connection between mobile apps and dedicated marine electronics. (Note, for instance, the interest already shown in the Raymarine e7 and the Chetco N2K-to-WiFi bridges.)
   Speaking of WiFi, isn’t it interesting that “Rogue Wave WiFi, the Bullet rules” — an entry written back in October, 2010 — was the third most read piece on Panbo last year? I attribute that to how much cruisers want to be connected, how frustrating long distance WiFi can be, and also how much useful information commenters contributed to that thread. Also helping is a link to the entry on Wave WiFi’s home page, which I consider a positive sign of how manufacturers have adopted to the wild and wooly web; after all, some of those comments are not only critical of the Rogue’s pricing but explain how similar results can be had cut rate.
   Also noticeable in the top twenty is a strong continuing interest in Navico Broadband Radar, which is not really surprising given how unusual the technology remains. I also notice technologies that no longer make the most-read list, like AIS. While it is still the most popular search category in Panbo’s archives, I think a lot of readers understand it pretty well now, and the aspect that gets more attention is a spirited argument about AIS privacy concerns (or misunderstandings ;-). The story is similar with NMEA 2000; it’s better understood now and comes up in all sorts of other marine discussions, but it’s not the stand alone topic it once was.
   I may be making too much of the list; a lot of diverse entries got nearly as much attention on Panbo last year as the ones seen toward the bottom of the list. But it is a good excuse to publish this “lookin back” picture Dan Corcoran took last summer. And also to ask you all what you think the big marine electronics stories of 2012 might be?


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

12 Responses

  1. Dan Noiseux says:

    Interesting to see how an electronic device like the iPad, that was certainly not designed with boating and outdoor activities in mind generated so much insterest and activity from the boating community and Panbo’s readers. I’m currious as of why! Are users not finding the dedicated system’s user friendly enough, is it the cost, the flexibility?
    Best wishes to all for 2012.

  2. Chris says:

    Mobility and flexibility and price. Pick any three. I spend as much on one IS20/FI50 as I do on an iPad. I have 8 displays that can barely do one thing well.

  3. Roger that. I’m replacing all the original wires and instruments on a 24 year old sailboat. Encased mobile displays help future-proof the install, and creates a minimal footprint when I leave the boat for hours or a season… It leaves with me.
    As a recreational boater I’d like as much access to intrumentation and information as possible; but am not solely relying on electricity to sail or have a good time. The iPhone and iPad (with the growing number of quality marine apps) fit my needs perfectly.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    I agree with Chris’s comment above… Apple should begin making Marine Instruments and most likely put all others to shame.
    Currently working on testing out the B&G Triton T41 display (serial number 1) that can do show a diverse amount of data on a number of screens. Will be giving this a real life test next week in the Ft Lauderdale to Key West Race.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Jeffrey, it’s great that you’re going to give the Triton T41 a good test (and report about it here on Panbo). Especially as I’d put the chances of Apple getting into marine electronics at about zero.
    Apple’s last quarter of 2011 may hit 40 billion dollars, which I think is at least twenty times the entire global marine electronics market for the whole year! Why in the world would Apple bother with this little niche?
    I may not have said it very well, but I think this enormous asymmetry is why the iPad showed up so high in Panbo reading stats. With about 25 million sold in 2011, and with apps and accessories fairly inexpensive, it just makes sense. That’s not to say that pads don’t have real value on boats. I’ve thought that from the beginning, and look forward to testing numerous interesting apps and pad-related gadgetry in the months ahead.
    But just because fewer folks seem to read entries about new MFDs, radars, instruments etc. doesn’t make them less important in the real world of boating.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Don’t forget the proportion of day/coastal sailors vs. blue water cruisers readers (that are less iPad prone)…
    But I feel a definite trend on the internet; PC style marine solution is what sailors are trying to put together.

  7. Richard C says:

    Looks to me like the iPanbo statistics are an i opener for anyone producing PC only navigation software.
    With the iPad, iPhone and Macbook/mini’s so popular on boats and sharing the seamless Apple connectivity I wonder if PC only Electronic navigation software like Coastal Explorer will begin to suffer. There was a rumor of a Rose Point iPad app. Hope it’s still in the works.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My thinking is the iPad frenzy points out that a lot of sailors are starting to think that cheaper standard Computer/Tablet type solutions are acceptable add-ons on boats and even suitable as replacements in some cases.
    Maybe Ben could tell us a bit more on this; is the iPad related stuff taking away from the “traditional” marine product or just bringing more business?

  9. Rick R says:

    Apple is revolutionizing the GPS/navigation/MFD field, just as they revolutionized the personal music player industry. The whole marine electronics industry is a mouse compared to the Apple elephant. Smart companies will realize that they can’t compete, and instead concentrate where Apple is not. Apple will never make marine radar, AIS, VHF etc. The prudent strategy for Garmin, Raymarine, Rose Point etc is to make sure their equipment and software can be seamlessly integrated with iPads/MacBooks.

  10. HenryD says:

    I think this is less of a surprise or concern to the PC software manufacturers than the old school proprietary systems – Raymarine, Furuno, Navico, etc. The iPad is very new (2 yrs) and tablets in general are going to be huge moving forward. It might be Apple, Assus, HP, Samsung, Lenovo, or many others who’s tablets will be used on many boats. They use very little power, are less expensive to replace and have huge functionality.
    I love using my iPad and my Assus EP121 tablet to do my Rosepoint and Maretron viewing. I can do both because I have both systems running on a PC on my wireless network and use Splashtop or VNC or LogMeIn to remotely view and control the PC. I think the days of closed system MFDs are going away – there is just not much value in it.

  11. Mark says:

    The iPad is truly a revolutionay device. Many have tried to copy it with little success. The marine industry has moved rather quickly I think to take advantage of the iPad capabilities. There are a few companies that seem to still be resisting. Developers continue to crank out new apps for realtime charting and navigation, data display, AIS, weather and tides.
    My site, reviews marine related apps and has seen a large increase in interest this year also.
    If you have been watching any coverage of the Volvo Ocean Race you see these yachts utilizing iPads and tablets on board. These devices are here to stay so if you produce marine electronics I suggest you incorporate them in your design.

  12. Mark says:

    Jeffrey, How did your Triton evaluation go? Does anyone know when these things will actually be released? We have had 3 of them on backorder since November and B&G keep telling us they will be released in Dec, then Jan, then Feb, then March, then April and now May. It is becoming ridiculous and I am beginning to worry that we may be getting problem instruments here.

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