Panbo

Fusion rocks the docks, and the boat?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 22, 2010
Fusion_quotes_Panbo_down_under.JPG

Synchronicity!  No matter what I'd get a big kick out of this photo taken yesterday at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in Australia.  But in fact I spent part of the day installing a Fusion stereo on Gizmo and I'd meant to write soon about the company's just released iPod/iPhone docks.  Plus there was a major marine entertainment product launch at the show which Fusion may have something to do with...

I got pretty excited about the new Fusion docks when I heard about them in Miami, along with the MS-RA200, which is the only Fusion head unit with the USB interface to support them...so far.   While the $100 MS-DKIP seems to function pretty much like Fusion's earlier dock, which is not a bad thing, the $150 MS-DKIPUSB adds an internal USB port for flash drives and -- the real kicker -- playback control of iPod/iPhone videos streaming from a composite video port on the back ( where there's another USB port for a hard drive or other audio source).  A rocking dock, for sure, but what is this Rock Your Boat thing?...
Fusion_MS-DKIPUSB.JPGWell, apparently Navico just announced SonicHub -- a black box stereo that will interface with current Lowrance and Simrad MFDs via NMEA 2000 -- and it looks to me like Fusion partnered in the project to some degree.  While I'm hoping to publish more details next week, here's a taste from down under below, and from Lowrance here.

Lowrance_Simrad_Rock_the_Boat_promo_beer_cPanbo.JPG

Comments

Glad to know about Sonichub. I see that it will be September availability so I will go ahead with my Fusion installation.
Here is a news release I uncovered. Brian

Change and consolidation for Navico: CEO Leif Ottosson explains����
Sat, 22 May 2010

The stand occupied by Navico at Sanctuary Cove is different this year. Same central location in Pavilion A, same size, some of the same faces, but the brands have been reduced to three � SIMRAD, Lowrance and B&G � and the focus is sharper. The mood though, is as buoyant as ever.

'2009 has been a good year for Navico,' affirms CEO, Leif Ottosson, who in June 2009, took over from Jens-Thomas Pietralla, who remains on the company's Board as a non-executive Director.

While Ottosson admits the company�s 2009 turnover dropped 25% and Europe and the US markets were challenging, he is ecstatic about the Australian market which he reports grew phenomenally. 'It was the only market that grew. We are just now starting to experience confidence coming back in other regions. Channels are taking on more inventory and already, there is a 30% increase on 2009.'

In the past 24 months, Navico has undergone some major restructuring in the form of consolidating operations from six factories around the world to a single facility in Mexico, and has shed 1000 staff to 'simplify the Navico footprint'.

According to Ottosson, the simplification from five brands to three, 10 different technical platforms to one, five different structures to one, various supply chains to one, and now one service network means Navico has a leaner cost structure, single focus and one simple mantra and direction.

'It�s much easier for our people to have a clear philosophy and it makes it easier to unify the culture of the company.'

When you operate in countries as diverse as Norway, New Zealand and the US, homogenising the Navico culture is a challenge. 'Getting the NZ, US and European cultures to mesh, to create a synergy and cooperation under the Navico umbrella has been our main focus,' he explains, adding that it was all the more complex following the 'mothballing' of the hero brands, Northstar and Eagle.

'There was a lot of emotion invested in those brands. When people work with them every day and believe in them, people are affected. But the three brands we have now are ideal. We are finally leveraging the strength of having three brands. It�s good for our customers � boat builders, dealers and retailers � to liaise with one rep and one service person.'

The decision to close factories in New Zealand, the US and Europe and concentrate on existing operations in Ensenada Mexico was purely financial. 'It is the most cost-efficient place, even more competitive than China. We still get components from Taiwan and China, but Mexico is where we manufacture.'

During the GFC and subsequent realignment of brands and corporate structure, Navico did not stop its investment in R&D. 'We still have our centres of excellence in Auckland, Tulsa, Ensenada, Romsey and Egersund. We are continuing investment in R&D. No competitor has launched more products than Navico in the past 24 months. We have many, many more to come.'

Crucial to the new strategy are three distinct product ranges over each brand. 'We will have three price points in each � value, mid and high.'

While there is some overlap, the three occupy different market segments. B&G is almost exclusively for the high end sail market, with a new aspirational range; SIMRAD covers motor, cruise and professional; Lowrance is aimed at the fishing and family market.

A lucrative market which has seen Navico appear at 11 boat shows already this year, is the commercial and professional sphere � government, military and commercial vessels.

At this year's Sanctuary Cove boat show, Navico is presenting a taster of things to come in the form of its 'Sonic Hub' with the slogan 'Rock Your Boat'. The music system, designed and engineered by Fusion electronics, will be retailing from September and caters to the current appetite for music on demand via iPod, iPad and USB.

For 2010 and beyond, Navico will launch a host of products in the broadband category, all with the theme of 'integrate everything'.

'We are just scratching the surface with this technology,' said Ottosson. 'There are many more applications for broadband and great potential. And that�s where we are way ahead of the competition.'

There will be five new products in the Australian spring, concentrating on the integration of electronics in the MFD.
'It�s all about creating a smaller footprint and shrinking the dashboard instrumentation.'

Ottosson, a Swedish native, educated in the US, a Harvard graduate with an MBA and a background in manufacturing and IT, is not deterred by recent movements in the marine electronics industry.

Commenting on the buyout of Raymarine by FLIR, he said simply: 'We don�t have to compete. I tell people not to be concerned. Most importantly to Navico is its innovation, its products, its people. I have never been in an organisation as dedicated as Navico. I�m not afraid.'

Posted by: bstrong at May 22, 2010 10:02 AM | Reply

Well that is interesting news on Navico!!
AS a venture capital firm,it is not surprising to hear of them closing factories and running off to Mexico,I guess that is predictable but sad.
Like any corporation they seek to maximize profits,too bad if you happen to be a loyal dedicated worker in New Zealand,they just go to Mexico.Ah yes the wonders of "free trade"
Rant off.
Will this fix their crappy dealer and customer service?

Posted by: peter coupland at May 22, 2010 10:41 AM | Reply

"....the simplification from five brands to three, 10 different technical platforms to one,"

"Crucial to the new strategy are three distinct product ranges over each brand. 'We will have three price points in each � value, mid and high.'
While there is some overlap, the three occupy different market segments. "

ONE technical platform? Like a "Jaguar" built on a Ford Contour chassis? This needs to be looked into more closely. It could be good if you're purchasing Lowrance, the other brands, not so much.
It would be good to get an overview to see if any internal hardware differences between the value and high ranges actually justify some of the astronomical price increases. (for all brands, not just Navico)

Posted by: John K at May 23, 2010 5:37 PM | Reply

John, they're talking about a unified software code base, just like the other manufacturers use. It's called NOS, and it's not remotely analogous to a car chassis...

http://www.panbo.com/archives/2009/05/lowrance_hds-10_hands-on_1_hello_nos.html

The idea that NOS has somehow reduced the quality of new Simrad gear is simply not realistic; the NSE series is very powerful and I think that we'll eventually see that it can scale up quite nicely. I'm also curious where you're seeing these "astronomical price increases"? It looks to me like the quality, performance, and features a boater gets for his/her MFD dollars is steadily increasing. That's why so many boaters have upgraded their electronics, and why PC navigation has waned a bit in recent years (though that could change). As you've noted yourself, this is a very competitive market.

Peter, The competition is also why all the major brands are using less expensive manufacturing facilities (as in so many other industries). But it's plain to see that less expensive manufacturing does not necessarily mean poor quality manufacturing, as painful as that fact is to people like us who live in places where decent factory jobs are vanishing. It's the way the world turns. I don't think we can't make it stop; we can only adjust.

Posted by: Ben at May 23, 2010 9:20 PM | Reply

Come off it with the astronomical price increase.
When I sold LORANS ( you do remember LORAN )
they were $1000 - $2500 and could remember at best 250 waypoints. Now for the same money, they put you on a chart, have 1000 waypoints, 3 meters
accuracy, auto routing, air and satellite photos,
built in depth sounders, etc.
The boating public has it pretty good I'd say.

Posted by: Ted McKibben at May 24, 2010 11:10 AM | Reply

I don't know. I guess I'm just old fashioned. I really happy with my little SONY CD / AM / FM wtih DIgital Radio upgrade available (When the new modulation replaces AM noise etc) and just plug in my CD (they still make those right?) and with a phone jack plug in my little Phillips audio memory. No NOS no software no nothing. All I want is good sound and my fav tunes. Bose small speakers and a hidden bass box and I'm set.

I looked at those prices for the fancy stuff and the $169 I paid was more than enough as far as I'm concerned. These days its about efficiency of $ for function. Why do I NEED some of this stuff. My stereo plays fine on my boat.

Upgrading MFDs or an Autopilot with better reliability that helps. And of course my favorite - better radar range and az resolution is the best thing going because it means safety at sea. THAT I need.
Dave

Posted by: DaveV at May 24, 2010 6:52 PM | Reply

I understand all that,Ben.My problem is more with the venture capital side of things than factory location.
Up here in British Columbia we were very successful retailing and installing Navman chartplotters and fishfinders,esp with the smaller sport fishermen.

Once Navico took over Navman,they cut off supplying the instruement line(competition to B&G?).
Ordering and warranty work became a nightmare and eventually we basically stopped selling Navman/Northstar.

Posted by: peter coupland at May 25, 2010 6:22 AM | Reply

peter coupland wrote: "Once Navico took over Navman,they cut off supplying the instruement line(competition to B&G?)."

Navman made $200 instruments, B&G make $2,000 instruments. Hardly competitive issues. I think that Navico didn't buy the Navman brand name? (it still exists in auto navigation)

As far as I know (certainly last month...) B&G still make their instruments in Romsey, England.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 25, 2010 8:45 AM | Reply

Dunno about all this. I just use a fairly cheap car stereo with CD/MP3 etc in the cabin. Waterproof speakers in the cockpit. As long as I can get Hendrix and Clapton LOUD I'm a happy bunny.

Steve.

Posted by: steverow at May 27, 2010 8:58 PM | Reply

I just completed installing the Fusion RA200 on my flybridge and I am very impressed with the audio quality and control for my iPhone music when inserted in the optional dock. I am not pleased at all however that the USB sourced music on an 8GB flash drive plays only briefly and stuttering and then locks up the RA200. Somewhere along the line I think a programmer missed something. Hopefully Fusion USA tech support will step up. Brian

Posted by: bstrong at July 7, 2010 4:05 PM | Reply

David Pareles at Fusion Elec USA told me today that the fix for the RA200 USB file reading problem is in the works. It will be downloadable for firmware update via usb. Meantime you can bypass the problem by assuring that no track names on your usb memory are longer than 100 characters. Brian

Posted by: bstrong at July 8, 2010 2:25 PM | Reply

I've just installed a RA200 in my cruiser. It's a well engineered and good looking bit of kit with a very simple operator interface. Unfortunately it locks up when connected to my iPhone 3G, it plays perfectly for about 3~4 minutes but then stops. The only way to recover is remove all power. Any advice would be great as I currently haven't had any response from Fusion.

Posted by: Tim at October 20, 2010 2:22 PM | Reply

Tim,
Had an IP 600G and wired remote Installed this spring. Used it about 6 times. It did the same thing as yours with both my iphone and ipod. Finally it bit the dust and would not power up. Three calls to tech support without a response, finally got customer service. Unit had to be returned. Had to get copy of installers invoice to validate purchase. They said 7-10 days in house time for repair/exchange.Boat goes into storage next week, probably without the IP600. Call customer service.
Good luck,
Joe

Posted by: joe at October 21, 2010 2:36 PM | Reply

Does anyone know where you can find the software to upgrade the NSE for sonic hub compatibility? You would think it would be intuitive on the website, but alas, no. I just installed the first of these on a 24' Regulator. I just need the upgrade to finish. Thanks. Rod Phelps azc941

Posted by: R. Phelps at October 26, 2010 7:34 PM | Reply

The NSE update for Sonic Hub (and magenta birds) is at
http://www.simrad-yachting.com/Downloads/Software-Updates/Simrad-NSE/

Posted by: norse in reply to R. Phelps at November 11, 2010 2:17 AM | Reply

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