TAG :: Toronto Area Geocachers » gps

We’ve been watching for a few weeks now as Garmin has been tossing stones into the GPS pond, and making some ripples.

First we had the Garmin Chirp device launch, which seemed to catch Groundspeak off guard. The beacon device launched without any support on Geocaching.com and in fact caches which required these devices were initially being declined before an attribute was rushed into existence. Apparently, Garmin only gave Groundspeak a couple days notice that the devices were coming into existence. This was a far cry from the partnership that produced the Wherigo engine.

Now, Garmin seems to have found an even bigger stone to toss out into the waters of uncertainty.  Take the case of a domain name – opencaching.com

This domain name came into existence in 2003, as an alternative geocache listing site – similar to sites like Navicaching and Terracaching. This site carried on quietly until 2008, when it ceased it’s operations.

Opencaching.com – 2003

Opencaching.com – November 2010

Some time after this, Garmin picked up the domain and quietly started making plans for it. We’ve been getting teased for a few weeks when a new logo appeared on the site.

One week, there was a logo that looked like an X with a circle around it, similar to the “open” geocaching logo and a slogan “As free and open as the great outdoors…”.

Now this would be interesting itself, if there wasn’t already someone using the name Opencaching. While Opencaching.us is off to a modest start here, the German site is quite active – and none too happy about Garmin using the name. So, the next update that appeared as a German slogan in place of the English one:

Bald auch unter einem Baumstumpf in deiner Nähe:
Kostenlos, offen, in deiner Sprache!

and Google translated this as

Soon, under a tree stump near you:
Free, open, in your language!

Was this an olive branch to the German community at opencaching.de ?

Opencaching.com – Dec 6 2010

We shall see. The current image on the site is a logo with four colours and concentric circles, with “How Awesome is your cache?”. This would seem to indicate that a listing site with a rating system is in the works.

An alternative listing site, particularly a Garmin one will impact geocaching activities in the Toronto area. For example:

  • Land managers have made agreements with Groundspeak and Geocaching.com. How will these land managers react to having another large player in the geocache listing business?
  • What about cache proximity? Groundspeak maintains a minimum 162M distance between the physical aspects of geocaches – finals, and stages of multi-caches. Will we have two caches at that waterfall?
  • Will Garmin be any more successful than other competitors, like the (now defunct) Terracaching site?
  • Will Garmin use it’s hardware sales dominance in places like Canada to drive traffic away from Groundspeak’s sites?
  • Will Garmin introduce Garmin specific hardware requirements for caches on it’s site?
  • Will geocachers be able to use the Garmin site if they don’t have Garmin hardware (ie Magellan GPS).
  • What happens to the GPX file format if Garmin starts making up extensions or tweaking standards? Does GSAK break?

Whatever Garmin is up to, the geocaching world is paying attention.  If you want to follow along, I’d highly recommend you follow Cachemania, as this blog has been keeping right on top of things as they unravel. Of course, I’ll be updating the TAG site here as I learn about Garmin’s plans.