Hardly anyone talks about Globalstar, yet this satellite operator has made a unique transition from commercial communications provider to a consumer products company one that is rather unique in the traditionally enterprise-focused satellite industry.
Globalstars unusual transition from commercial focus to the consumer mass market was driven by a unique set of circumstances problems with the S-band amplifiers aboard its satellites, which caused a degradation of duplex voice services. With voice capabilities disrupted by the amplifier failures, the company had to reinvent itself, and reinvent itself it did, with gusto.
Relying on the unaffected simplex capabilities of the Globalstar constellation, Peter Dalton, Globalstars CEO, created an innovative series of location and messaging products for the mass consumer market, including Spot Satellite Messenger, the DeLorem/Spot Image Communicator (an integration of the DeLorem navigation product and Globalstars messaging service), and Hug, a feature rich location and tracking service for the boating industry.
The unusual nature of the Globalstar approach represents an emphasis and understanding of mass marketing not traditionally applied in the technology-focused satellite industry, and is a credit to Dalton, an entrepreneur recognized for his ability to create low cost technology that enables mass market penetration.
Essentially, Spot provides hikers and outdoorsmen enhanced safety and security in the field. Unlike conventional GPS devices, Spot transmits a continuous stream of location data every few minutes, providing tracking information and the ability to send messages to family and friends. The unit is palm-sized and an easy to transport device with coverage in practically the entire continental United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, and Australia, sections of South America, Northern Africa, and Northeastern Asia. Optionally, the location data may be accessed over the Internet and viewed on Google Maps. At a retail price of $99US, Globalstar has sold thousands of units.
The DeLorem/Spot Image Communicator
The DeLorem/Spot Image Communicator essentially integrates DeLorems Navigation GPS Tracker, Earthmate, with the Globalstar Network, resulting in a unique hybrid product that combines GPS navigational capability with Globalstars communications and tracking capabilities. With it, users can send geo-tagged text messages from remote areas to their personal contacts as well to their Facebook and Twitter contacts. Other features include the ability for users to be tracked over the Internet, check in, or send SOS messages.
The Spot Hug
Spot Hug, Hybrid Universal Guardian, is a unique, low cost asset monitoring and messaging system. At a ground breaking low-price of $399US, plus a small monthly subscription fee, the product monitors a boats location and sends unauthorized movement alerts to the Spot Asset Monitoring Center. The Spot device also includes a fob that is carried by the owner when boating. If the owner leaves the boat and the boat is moved, an automatic alert is sent to the monitoring center and owner, a feature especially useful when the boat is parked while the owner stops at a waterside restaurant.
The New Constellation
The first of Globalstars new satellites is scheduled for launch in October, far ahead of Iridium. With the new satellites in place, Globalstars full voice services should be restored to the companys 400,000 subscribers and, with the added cash flow from Spot and Hug added to its voice revenue, Globalstar should be in a strong position to service its debt and to ultimately attain an attractive level of profitability.
About the author
Mr. Gottlieb is CEO of Gottlieb International Group. His firm, Gottlieb International Group Inc., specializes in assisting ship owners and managers with evaluation of satellite service offerings and helping service providers structure appropriate product offerings. Mr. Gottlieb is a recognized expert in the field, has extensive contacts in the global shipping industry and VSAT vendor community and is a frequent published author and speaker at satellite and maritime conferences. Established in 2002, Gottlieb International Group has worked with ship owners and managers, VSAT vendors around the globe, and his clients have included such major companies as Inmarsat, Iridium, Globecomm Systems, KVH Industries and Intelsat. His new E-Book, The First Independent Guide to Maritime VSAT is now available through his Companys website: