DeLorme Acquired by Garmin
T he world of global positioning software and mapping technology has become a little more contracted, as Garmin Limited last week completed its acquisition of substantially all of the assets of DeLorme — which was a privately-held company that designed and marketed consumer-based satellite tracking devices with two-way communication and navigational capabilities, according to this press release.
“We are pleased to have the DeLorme team join the Garmin family,” said Cliff Pemble, who is the president and chief executive officer of Garmin Limited. “We are looking forward to leveraging the outstanding expertise and skills of the DeLorme team to enable the development of innovative products that will enhance the lives of our customers.”
In addition to its extensive library of digital cartography, enterprise geographic information system software and traditional mapping, the DeLorme portfolio included its inReach series of two-way satellite communication devices which are enabled by global positioning software and allow you to send and receive satellite text messages — or trigger an S.O.S. for emergency help — anywhere in the world.
The inReach line of products accounted for approximately half of the $20 million in revenues for DeLorme in 2015.
Garmin Limited — which is based in Switzerland — will continue operations at what was the former headquarters of DeLorme in Yarmouth, Maine; while retaining most of the 92 full-time employees of DeLorme following the completion of the acquisition. The Yarmouth facility will operate primarily as a research and development facility; and will continue to develop two-way satellite communication devices and technologies.
Financial terms of the purchase agreement and acquisition have not been released.
Competitive Pressures and Patent Challenges
“There was a time when Garmin (GRMN) was the key player in the navigation equipment space. Its automotive and aviation products led the way for many consumers, and allowed the company to rise to prominence over the past few years”, according to this article written three years ago from Forbes. “However, with the advent of numerous competitors and near-universal availability of GPS devices in phones, Garmin is now facing an extremely rough period. In fact, its most important segment, the automotive/mobile space, accounts for over half the company’s net sales, but has not seen any growth over the past three fiscal years.”
There are quite a few companies which are considered both direct and indirect competitors to Garmin Limited.
“DeLorme has faced challenges to its patents on those devices and been hit with a $6.2 million civil penalty by the U.S. International Trade Commission”, according to this article written by Darren Fishell for the Bangor Daily News. “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed that penalty but invalidated the patent upon which it was based in November. DeLorme is seeking a new hearing before the ITC.”
There is no word at the time this article was written as to how the litigation will be resolved.
If you own any products by either Garmin or DeLorme, I thought you might be interested in this news.
As for me, I never use global positioning software to get to where I am going; but I do tend to use Google Maps — even if only to spend a few moments just exploring the world with the interactive maps, satellite imagery and Street View technology.
An increasingly distant second is a traditional atlas; but that is only when I do not have access to a computer.
Source: Garmin Limited.