Like a lot of people, the folks who run Garmin looked at DeLorme’s inReach satellite messaging system and liked what it saw—so much so that the Swiss brand is purchasing the 40-year-old Maine mapping and GPS company. The inReach system is nothing short of “compelling,” Garmin said.
Once best known for its paper atlases, in the five years DeLorme has dramatically improved, even revolutionized, the ability of backcountry travelers to stay connected via its inReach device, which allows two-way satellite text messaging over most of the globe. Other devices, such as those made by SPOT, let you send pre-written texts but can’t compose on the fly.
“The inReach is a technology that really nobody else has,” Garmin’s Ted Gartner said. “We think that with Garmin’s size we can put that in the hands of more people in many different areas, whether hikers, hunters, boaters or pilots.”
Sales of the device made up about half of DeLorme’s $20 million annual revenue, the Portland Press Herald reported. The popularity of DeLorme’s Gazetteer atlases plummeted when consumers rushed to handheld GPS and other electronic mapping systems, but have since leveled off. There’s nothing like planning the next day’s adventure by headlamp, a Gazetteer on your lap—a pleasure founder David DeLorme keenly understood when he created the company to provide outback enthusiasts accurate cartography.
Garmin will keep DeLorme’s Yarmouth facility open for research and development and retain most of its 92 employees. The world’s largest rotating globe, Eartha, which stands in DeLorme’s lobby, will still be open to the public. The company’s map store, however, will close.