Garmin: Tablets Have Made an Impact, But Dedicated Portables Aren't Dead

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At Aero 2013, Garmin International expanded its presence with a larger display area and space for demonstrations and training and the company told AVweb that it saw its strongest show yet. In this podcast with AVweb, Garmin VP of aviation sales and marketing Carl Wolf said the company is looking for even stronger results in Europe and has hired dedicated staff to manage the territory. "Not that other shows have more tire kickers, but we can definitely tell the difference. This show definitely has a good feel of qualified buyers and intelligent questions. We have a large presence here with more sales people than we've had before," Wolf said.

Although there's sufficient wealth in Europe to support expensive airframe sales by Cirrus and Cessna, there's also a definite tilt toward ultralights and aircraft that are less expensive to operate. And along with that comes demand for avionics that may be less expensive than Garmin's mainstream products have been in the past. Wolf says Garmin hears this in the voices of customers. When we asked if Garmin is on the verge of announcing a major new certified product line to appeal to buyers of modest budgets, Wolf said the company has nothing to announce yet. But he noted, as have others, that Garmin recently entered the experimental segment with an aggressive line of new products centered on the G3X, including an ADAHRS and a full-featured autopilot. Wolf said the technology used on those products is a direct result from general, across-the-board advancements and these will inevitably affect the cost of certified avionics, generating downward pressure on prices.

And what about the dedicated GPS portables? Has the iPad and related tablet products killed it? Wolf acknowledges the dent in Garmin's portable market, but he thinks portables still have legs. "There are still people who prefer a dedicated device and while we have nothing to announce at this show, I'm convinced we'll have another dedicated portable product at some point," Wolf added.