Although we had a lot of trouble with our first Vesper AIS, I have long been a fan of their products, with the exception of the Cortex, which tried to do too many things in one unit and had a lot of issues as a result.
When Garmin bought Vesper I had a sense of impending doom—these acquisitions of small companies by big ones almost always go badly for us users.
And I was right, Garmin has just announced that they will no longer sell any of the Vesper products except the Cortex, which, as I understand it, is still buggy.
That’s bad news since these were still good products at a fair price.
The Big Suck
But far worse news is that Garmin will not maintain the WatchMate app, which means that at some point, probably sooner rather than later, those of us with Vesper products—particularly those with no screen, like the XB-8000—are truly screwed, since unmaintained apps tend to stop working when the device operating system is updated.
In my view, this is totally unacceptable behaviour on the part of Garmin, particularly since the units that they are, in effect, trashing, were available for sale up until a few weeks ago, and some are still in the supply chain—our XB-8000 on our new-to-us J/109 is just 30 months old.
To be clear, this likely means that someone who bought a XB-8000 a week ago will have a near-useless lump of plastic and components on their hands a couple of years from now, and maybe sooner.
And even if it keeps working with some reduced functionality, a working app was what said buyer was sold, so they should get that for a reasonable period of time.
Decent companies like, for example, Furuno make sure that their products are fully supported with parts and software for at least ten years after the last one is sold.
I suggest we all write to Garmin pointing out their bad behaviour and informing them that we will not buy their products in the future because they clearly don’t give a damn about us—this is my letter to them.
At the very least, Gamin should be maintaining the app on iTunes and Google Play for 10 years. That’s just basic, guys, and not that hard.
I’m also disappointed in Panbo for not making more of a fuss about this. I get that they are advertising funded, and Garmin are probably a big part of that, but, even so, sometimes you have to stand up and be counted. Just telling us that we can buy a new fancy and expensive, and probably still buggy Cortex from Gamin is not good enough, guys.