Competition drives innovation in marine electronics. Manufacturers constantly push each other to evolve product lines, making the pace of new-product development fast and relentless.
Garmin International has distinguished itself with equal parts initiative and innovation by not only providing marine electronics to the aftermarket — sales rose double digits last year — but also working closely with boatbuilders and gaining market share at the OEM level.
Describing itself as a “consistent disruptor,” Garmin introduced 100 new products in the past year. The range of applications is impressive. Among the innovations: OneHelm, an integrated product designed for builders that employs digital switching to control a range of functions, from lighting to stabilization, on a single multifunction display. Panoptix LiveScope, already in its third iteration, delivers live sonar images in real time. Active Captain is a free mobile content-management app with unlimited access to cartography, automatic software updates, off-vessel planning capabilities and connected services. InReach Mini is a lightweight satellite communicator for two-way messaging that uses the Iridium network for times when a boater is out of cellular range.
The judges voted as much for Garmin’s close work with OEM partners, which often involves customizing electronics suites from the ground up, as its new-product development. The company was selected as the exclusive marine-electronics supplier for Independent Boat Builders Inc., with 19 boat brands that account for 20 percent of U.S.-built boats. It is also a supplier of choice for the American Boatbuilders Association.
Garmin is also integrating product lines from subsidiaries — Fusion Entertainment, Navionics and EmpirBus — in a move toward the connected boat. The company also draws from its fitness products for the marine market, including the Descent MK1, its first dive computer, and Garmin Nautix In-View display, derived from its Edge cycling computers.
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.