Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Best things in life are free

There is a considerable amount of hype surrounding Chris Anderson's new book Free. Chris is the author of The Long Tail and editor of Wired Magazine. Ironically, Chris's book is available for free here. The premise of Free is that companies can use free products or services as a means of attracting customers. The hope is then to provide an upgrade, superior product, or add on for a price. How does that relate to Amver?

Free- Really!

Amver participation is free. We do not charge you to enroll. We do not charge our survivors. Using the Amver/SEAS software application, ships can send position reports and weather observations to Amver and NOAA. As long as users follow the Amver/SEAS instructions, there is no cost to the vessel for sending their messages.

Does this free service work? It certainly does. The Amver center receives hundreds of Amver/SEAS messages a day. Is this free service worth the effort? You only have to read this email from a recent survivor to learn the value of the Amver program.

Is Amver Really Free?

Not everyone believes things can be free. Christopher Penn, from the Marketing Over Coffee podcast, recently wrote that nothing in life is free. "The only time something is truly free," said Penn, "is when it has no value..." Does that mean Amver has no value? Of course not. Penn states that "what you make available without a financial transaction taking place is not free." Amver, therefore, is not free.

The Cost Of Participation

Are there hidden costs to participating in Amver? Sure there are. A vessel that misses a port call because it had to rescue someone may end up at anchorage for hours or days before they can offload their cargo. That ultimately costs ship owners money. If a vessel chooses to use an alternate means of sending position reports, that too costs money. What if a crew member is injured rescuing a survivor? More costs.

These costs, however, are justified. Saving one life, providing a lee in a storm, or passing needed medicine or food justifies the cost. Almost every mariner, with rare exception, would help another in distress. They know it could be them in trouble on the next voyage.

The best evidence that the costs of Amver participation are minimal are the number of vessels on plot each day. In 2009 the number of available vessels has climbed from an average of 3,400 per day to over 3, 600.

Why do you participate in Amver? Is it worth it?

Photo credit: uploaded to Flickr by HowiePoon

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Peter A. Stinson said...

Great post, Ben. I would note there is a cost to Amver, a cost borne by the American taxpayer. But that cost is minimal, again, when juxtaposed against the benefits and results. And when you start looking at cost savings that participating vessels actually create for the U.S. Coast Guard and other maritime rescue agencies around the world.

Amver Maritime Relations said...

Thank you for the comment. The cost of the Amver program, approximately $2 million, and your point is correct. The cost of Amver is quickly offset each time we send an Amver vessel to search in lieu of Coast Guard surface or air assets (within the United States SRR). The savings is about $23K an hour. You can imagine how quickly that adds up in a year. We usually end up saving approximately $13 to 15 million a year.