The news has not already been very surprising in these times when large companies buy their competitors, get merged or break up into pieces; but there’s no doubt it makes us think what could happen to the company that manufactured equipment that we use or were in plan to acquire.
In my view and a good friend with whom we shared the issue is not alarmed. They are consequences of globalization and the inevitable fusion technologies to capture process and service mapping data. Nothing to do with the way they were in that comparison of total stations (60 in 11 brands). The truth is that competition (aside the Chinese technology), stays big three:
- Europe (Leica)
- Japan (Topcon)
- United States (Trimble)
But each of them comes from so long backgrounds that reflect how civil engineering, cartography, photogrammetry, surveying, GIS and transportation have been almost inseparable whole disciplines. The evolution of CAD / CAM / CAE technologies, computers, gadgets and Internet add up to a fairly interesting trend.
Leica case (Switzerland), is the heir of those Wild equipment we used at the University, with a history since 1819, associated with famous Leitz cameras manufacture. Summarizing acquisitions in photogrammetry and remote sensing field, it had purchased ERDAS and LH Systems in 2001, and then ER Mapper, Ionic and Acquis in 2007.
Hexagon AB (Swedish) is now Leica’s owner as Geomax and recently also bought Intergraph (2010).
Topcon case (Japanese), comes from 1932; in 2000 Topcon bought Javad; KEE in 2006 and Sokkia in 2008. The next step could be a Chinese company which is little known in our environment, but with a global growth capable of absorbing Topcon that has been limited in some application area.
And Trimble’s case, on this world’s side is more recent (1978) but with the American companies aggressiveness. It had roots with Hewlett Packard; in 1990 enters the Datacom package, then in 2000 it bought Spectra Precision and TDS, in 2003 Nikon; in 2004 MENSI and GeoNav; in 2005 Pacific Crest, Apache MTS Technologies and Applanix.
Then in 2006 buy APS, XYZ, Quantm, BitWyse Eleven, Meridian and so the list goes on… which includes among the recent Definiens in 2010. So Ashtech purchase in 2011 is nothing more than a new acquisition – of course, without Magellan that already had been sold-.
These processes do not usually kill innovative technologies but indeed those which are becoming obsolete. Trimble is buying Ashtech to increase the Spectra Precision competitiveness, not to kill BLADE technology, as far as I understand it by now, we’ll see later what happens.
“Combining Ashtech’s wide portfolio of GNSS products with Spectra Precision’s global distribution network can provide surveyors exciting new choices for optimal efficiency.”
With this, it is clarified that we will no longer see Mobile Mapper 6 that was Magellan’s, only the new line called Mobile Mapper 10 and Mobile Mapper 100. I had already taken a look at MM100 a few days ago, it offers 40 cm in navigation and less than 10 cm with post-processing, while the MM10 is much smaller but it will be marketed to rural cadastral purposes:
We should see, but you just have to imagine an equipment of U.S. $ 1.500 or less with WindowsMobile open, camera, gis software, postprocessing, and that can mount a data collection program for stations with Bluetooth. A powerful weapon against U.S. $ 2.400 or more that would cost a station collector without the GPS GIS possibility. Nothing to do with simple Mobile Mapper 6, since it supports RTK and G3, with this hardware, after a bit time, could be made a station collector and Sokkia SSF software
As well as on Promark 3 side which is doomed to disappear, we’ll only see Promark 100 and Promark 200. The difference between the second and the first one is that PMK200 works with dual frequency GPS or GLONASS and GPS in single frequency. Mind you, it does not hold GLONASS at dual frequency.
But between GLONASS / GPS single frequency and GPS dual frequency, I would prefer the second option, at least in American tropics that there are not many alternatives.
Promark as Mobile Mapper 100 are equipment with equal hardware and software. In some ways are scalable equipment, it is matter of settings, starting with a MM100; then you can buy the dual frequency external antenna (there you have a Promark), if you want more it can be integrated the collector geodetic software and then the RTK and you have a tremendous equipment.
Let us hope that the purchase will be for the good of all.