Raymarine buys Tacktick, the big get bigger

Raymarine_acquires_Tacktick.jpg

A few weeks ago I tweeted about how I’d had a nice dinner meeting with Raymarine and that they had all sorts of interesting product news that I couldn’t write about yet. But, dang, they didn’t even mention that they were in acquisition mode, let alone that they were quite close to sealing the deal to buy Tacktick announced earlier today. This move has to feel good for the Ray folks who were around during the hard times before FLIR bought the company, and also for the innovators who created Tacktick’s neat wireless instrument systems and struggled against much larger marine electronics manufacturers — like Raymarine — before joining Suunto, which didn’t appear to make much sense in terms of product integration…

I believe that Tacktick’s founders and designers, the brothers Clive and Mark Johnson, are still around and I imagine that they’re pretty excited about the possibilities of, say, marrying their wireless sensor technology to Ray’s color instruments and/or its existing wireless MOB system and autopilot controls. That, of course, may involve the evolution of Tacktick technology to NMEA 2000 — or SeaTalkNG, as Raymarine likes to call it — which is something the Johnsons talked about for a long time, though apparently it never made the top of the to-do list. And there must be sailors out there with ideas about how Raymarine can integrate Tacktick besides the important aspect of global distribution, marketing, and support. (Incidentally, below is an illustration of one of Tacktick’s recent clever ideas, the portable Coach Boat Pack.)
   But this is also a story of the big getting bigger in marine electronics, which happens to be the subject of my June column in Yachting. It’s a natural phenomenon given all the functions multi-function displays are acquiring. And it’s not a bad phenomenon given how powerful and seamless all that functionality is getting for boaters. But it does mean that boaters have to make one big nav system choice instead of several smaller ones (and the fierce competition can be hard on standards organizations like NMEA). At any rate, I’ll try to post a link when the Yachting article goes online, and how about a round of congratulations to Tacktick and Raymarine. Now, any good guesses on what other acquisitions we might see in this industry?

Tacktick_coach_boat_pack.jpg

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

9 Responses

  1. SCOTTB says:

    NICE MOVE BY RAYMARINE. SHOULD HELP THEIR LINE OUT ALOT.
    BUT I WISH GARMIN HAD BEAT THEM TO IT

  2. grumpy_o_g says:

    I’ve always been slightly bemused by TackTick. They seem nice enough products and I’ve never heard a bad word about the company but the only USP is the wireless aspect. If Garmin, Navico, Std Horizon, Maretron, Airmar, etc. wanted to introduce wireless connectivity it would be a comparatively minor effort. Simrad already have a wireless remote in fact so they’ve actually done half the work. Wireless won’t cut it for Radar really – even fully processed video would be pushing it a little and there’s no way I want a rate/hdg feed to my Autopilot over wireless. I suspect TackTick had a niche market which may grow as wireless becomes more accepted as a stable connection but I don’t see how it stays a USP unless there’s a daft US patent out there for the idea. I wish the TackTick employees and directors all the best though.
    “But it does mean that boaters have to make one big nav system choice instead of several smaller ones (and the fierce competition can be hard on standards organizations like NMEA)” – I sort of agree but what you’re really saying is the NMEA organisation isn’t doing it’s job. I should be able to throw any NMEA2000 device onto an NMEA2000 backbone and it will be fully compatible within the NMEA standards.
    Fierce competition should help, not hinder standards organisations. I have a two Dell monitors, an HP base unit, a Vigor router, Iomega NAS, a Logitech keyboard – I didn’t even bother checking compatibility of any of them beyond checking it was GigE NAS, a DVI monitor, etc. SO other parts of the IT world fiercely resist lock-in – and the marine companies wouldn’t last ten seconds in that cut-throat environment. I can’t help wondering if there’s a little bit of the cartel mentality stopping Simrad making their units compatible with Raymarine/Garmin and vice-versa.

  3. Chris s/v/ Pelican says:

    I’m excited to see if they make 1+1=3 with this acquisition. Marrying the ST70, transducers, radar and other devices with wireless is a great opportunity, especially in retrofitting existing boats. Bring in the money and marketing capabilities of FLIR/Raymarine and add in TackTick and I think good things could happen.
    Regarding grump_o_g’s mention of radar pushing it a little over wireless – I would tend to disagree. Wireless is used extensively in hospitals these days for medical imaging so I’m fairly certain it can handle the smaller amount of data from a radar set. Also, using lessons learned from how various Internet protocols are handled (such as the UDP protocol [part of TCP/IP]), things like heading sensors can be updated with a minimum of latency over a wireless network.
    Ben – can you pressure the Raymarine guys to un-embargo the product news they’ve discussed with you? Now that you’ve thrown it out there that there’s some interesting upcoming stuff, I can’t wait to hear about it! Also, next time you meet with them can you ask them to put out a significant owner loyalty program allowing owners of older C and E series screens and analog radar to upgrade to the newer devices with *big* discounts (none of this $100 off stuff – $800-$1000 off would be great). The fact that I need to upgrade my radar at the same time as my chartplotter is preventing me from buying either.

  4. Sandy Daugherty says:

    Where does TackTick fit in the radio spectrum?

  5. Len Bertaux says:

    As a comment on the TickTack line I can report there are a significant number of unsatisfied folks who have purchased these instruments and find them lacking in terms of expected performance. This comes via sailboat owner’s user groups and comments posted about instrument trouble and poor customer support. Perhaps Raymarine will be able to address these issues as the promise of a family of wireless sensors could be a homerun in the world of upgrading older boats.

  6. Chris s/v/ Pelican says:

    Spectrum-wise, TackTick uses two different frequencies depending on where you buy it. 916MHz – USA, Canada, South America, Autralasia, Japan. 869MHz – UK, Europe, Africa. 916MHz is an unlicensed, amateur radio frequency. I’m wondering what the legalities of the frequency selection are if you sail from the US to Europe.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I suspect Tacktick was actually turning into a competitor for Raymarine and the folks at FLIR decided to take it out, instead of loose some more market share.
    I think this will solve the issue I have with not having a wireless N2K unit. Raymarine can easily integrate existing products (E85001 ST1 to 0183 and/or the E22158 ST1 to STNG) into the Tacktick NMEA0183 wireless box and be ready in short order to sell something that can be integrated into existing Raymarine networks.
    I hope the folks at tacktick keep the small boat racing flavour, I see a lot of big boats with full Raymarine systems and an unintegrated tacktick display… this might be a clue to what is in the minds of the product development folks.
    For the record Tacktick’s EU frequency 869MHz is the old UHF channel 65, which is currently being used for emergency services and will likely become more cellular channels in the future.
    Fair seas!

  8. Greg Wilkins says:

    I’ve got a tacktick system and am pretty happy with it. After the Suunto acquisition I was waiting for some new products… a suunto style watch that listens into the wireless instruments would have been nice.
    I’ve also just put a Raymarine tiller pilot on the boat and running the NMEA183 link made me appreciate the wireless. If only it had been wireless as well!

  9. Olaf says:

    I am happy with my tacktick system, not only for the wireless data network (log, lot and wind), but especially for being self-powered – completely wireless.
    I can’t wait for a Raymarine Tiller-Pilot taking advantage of Tacktick’s technology – both wireless networking and temporarily self-powered.
    There would be no problem with waypoint, wind or water speed information received from the wireless network not continuously, due to tiller-pilot’s internal fluxgate compasses.

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