When Yamaha Motor Corp. and Siren Marine announced that they had formed a strategic alliance to accelerate industrywide adoption of the latter’s Connected Boat technology, each side covered the expected topics, including the facilitation of boat ownership, and improving service and communication.
During a subsequent conversation, Siren Marine CEO Jeffrey Poole stepped up things a notch, telling Soundings Trade Only, “Just imagine being on a run from Newport to Block Island in calm water, and you can buy 50 extra horsepower for three hours.”
That’s the next-level stuff that Poole and Ben Speciale, president of Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit, are looking at for the future of the partnership. As part of the alliance, Yamaha purchased an ownership stake in Newport, R.I.-based Siren, which has been evolving the connected boat concept since 2011. Financial details of the partnership have not been disclosed.
“The end result will be boats with integrated Yamaha systems that can be monitored and managed by a handheld device,” Speciale says. “These guys understand boats and what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s easy to throw technology at something, but it’s hard to make something easy to operate.”
For the short term, the alliance is expected to help Siren boost its distribution worldwide. Yamaha will be able to reinforce CommandBlue, a philosophy that Yamaha says “represents its commitment to move engineering and development into the realm of the customer, ultimately delivering products that are easier to use, and creating greater satisfaction and confidence on the water.”
Peace of Mind
Siren Marine’s Siren 3 Pro is a transmitter that a consumer purchases and has installed on his boat. It costs $749, and there are choices for the required subscription service that connects to a smartphone via the Siren Marine app. An annual plan costs $180, $17.91 per month or $125 per season. For larger yachts, an additional satellite subscription is $300 for a year. The cellular plan is still required with the satellite plan.
The company doesn’t release sales data, but Poole says Siren Marine closed its first financial quarter of 2021 with sales that exceeded half of what it did in all of 2020. And it looks to reach more customers with less-expensive products scheduled throughout the remainder of the year. In July, Siren plans to release Siren 3 Plus, which will cost $399 and be a unit a consumer can self-install. It will be followed by Siren 3 by the end of the year; that product will connect to wireless sensors and have a price of $299. It’s targeted at smaller boats and personal watercraft. The primary difference between Siren 3 Pro and Siren 3 Plus is that the Pro is driven by NMEA 2000 and J1939 on-board networks, while Plus is driven only by NMEA 2000.
Using the Siren app, an owner can see the location of his boat and set a geofence to be alerted any time the vessel moves. An owner also can monitor a variety of systems, including the batteries, bilge pump and lights, and anything in alert mode. The app can also be used to control on-board devices connected to the system. For example, if the family is heading out on an evening cruise and the boat has been sitting in the hot sun all day, remotely starting the air conditioner before arriving at the dock is part of the package. The same can be done with the refrigerator.
“What’s that value of your Saturday morning driving to the boat or walking down the dock and you know the battery is good, the bilge isn’t full of water and you just get to go boating?” Poole says.
Siren founder Capt. Dan Harper, who died in January, envisioned the connected boat when he started the company in 2011. Poole says Siren has invested more than $12.5 million on cloud infrastructure. “We know IoT, and we know boats,” Poole says.
From a service standpoint, the boat owner can give a dealer access to the boat via the Siren app, and the service team can take a proactive approach. The idea is that if the owner can see the same information, he will be less wary when a service writer suggests that routine maintenance be performed. “The dealership can manage the asset and do it at the optimum time for them, which is more cost-effective for the consumer,” Speciale says.
Poole adds that proactive service coordination sets the partnership apart from what anyone else is doing. “We know that proactive service revenue is five times compared to reactive service revenue,” he says.
Moving forward, Speciale says he wants to see communication between Yamaha outboards and the Siren app take place in real time. “Today, they monitor items and can do on-off switching, but we’re talking about getting into the engine system a lot more,” Speciale says. He also sees the value in a wide range of products. “I’d still like to know if my 9.9-hp outboard needs an oil change. From a visionary point, you can see it being connected. The question is the price of the connectivity.”
Siren’s appeal seems to extend across age ranges. One elderly client who owns a classic sailboat in the Newport area has Siren 3 Pro. He was getting alerts about high water. “His stuffing box was leaking, and he said, ‘If I didn’t know, the boat would have sunk in front of Harbour Court in four days,’ ” Poole recalls. The client told him, “I’ve never been so comfortable with leaving my boat on a mooring.”