Navico Group CEO Leif Ottosson said its merger with C-MAP is part of a long-term strategy to improve the boating experience. The parent of Simrad, B&G and Lowrance will continue to expand its “digital marine ecosystem,” which blends hardware across its electronics brands with mapping by C-MAP.
“We see our mission as improving the boating experience so our customers enjoy the same levels of ease and comfort as they do in other parts of their lives,” Ottosson told Trade Only Today. “We’ll do that by integrating all the functions of the boat into simple platforms while including content like enhanced mapping. C-MAP will be critical to that strategy going forward.”
The merger with C-MAP, Ottosson said, is not unlike other recent industry mergers, including last week’s announcement that Brunswick had acquired Power Products and Evinrude buying Alumacraft. “The idea behind all of them is to not only have a bigger footprint on every boat, but to provide an integrated experience across different on-board systems,” he said.
Going forward, Ottosson said that electronic mapping will become more user friendly. “We’ll be moving into contextual mapping,” he said. “I might be doing an activity and my map will show what I’m doing on the screen. We’re working now on how to present the data to be much more intuitive to our users. We want to provide a more car-like experience. That’s how we’ll be looking at it with C-MAP.”
The new technology will include “base” mapping around specific activities. For an angler, the map will work closely with electronics such as sonar, incorporating a fishing layer that describes where fish are, as well as weather, current, tidal and other pertinent information.
“We are designing a whole bunch of new features to help the boater,” Ottosson said. “These features will make it easier to use the electronics, from checking all systems before and after starting the engines to making cruising much easier. We can present everything in four or five modes that are easy to understand. The idea is to appeal to the 98 percent of boaters who are not that experienced.”
The new features will begin to appear on Navico electronics and apps in the next six to nine months.
C-MAP will continue to supply Navico competitors, such as Raymarine and Furuno, while the recreational division of C-MAP will remain headquartered in Italy. The commercial division is in Norway, near Navico’s headquarters. “We don’t see any big changes in terms of supplying our customers or laying off employees,” Ottosson said. “We will have an acceleration in product development. You’ll see major announcements from C-MAP in 12 to 18 months.”
There are no “imminent” plans for further acquisitions, though Ottosson said that “strategic” acquisitions could happen if a company fits into Navico’s long-term plans. C-MAP will continue to be heavily involved in the commercial marine segment, as about 50 percent of its annual revenues come from that sector. “Our Simrad brand also does quite a bit of commercial business, so we will no doubt integrate those product lines going forward,” Ottosson said.