The Wirie line of products has been on the market for nine years - providing popular long range Wi-Fi (and eventually cellular) options for boaters and even some RVers.
But if you are a Wirie owner, there is some bad news this month. Island Consulting, the company behind The Wirie, has abruptly shut down.
Two weeks ago The Wirie website was replaced with this bare bones announcement:
Island Consulting, Inc. has ceased all operations of The Wirie business effective immediately. We want to say a big thank you to all of our existing customers from the past 9 years. Unfortunately, a number of factors have played into us having to close our business at this time.
There will be no further support, and we will not be able to perform repairs on our products.
This sudden cutoff of ongoing support was especially surprising from a company that had built its reputation on providing great customer service.
Even customers who had purchased a Wirie just a few weeks ago are being left in the lurch - and some have reported they have filed claims with their credit card companies to try and get refunds.
It is hard to say for sure.
The couple behind The Wirie have told us that they can't comment officially beyond what is posted on the website.
But on some forums there has been speculation that the shutdown is related to the new trade tariffs, and cruiser and Wirie customer Sailing Totem posted this:
"The nutshell version is that Wirie has fallen to the tariffs for US businesses from Asian suppliers, and that stinks. Small businesses like theirs are EXACTLY who should be getting support, not victimized in a trade war."
That is unfortunate news, if true.
But regardless of the trade war, nine years is a long time for a small company to stay focused on such a very small niche market - and it is completely understandable for the team behind The Wirie to want to step away and move onto something new.
We just wish that things might have ended a bit more gracefully - particularly for any Wirie customers now caught in the lurch.
Ongoing Wirie Support
Island Consulting is cutting off all direct support, but they are leaving their FAQ, users manuals, and firmware updates published online to help customers.
There is also a Facebook Wirie Support Forum where now orphaned Wirie customers can turn to each other for help.
The good news - The Wirie is a solid product, and if it is properly configured and working today the odds are good that it will continue to serve current owners nicely for years to come.
But overall - the Wirie product line is unlikely to ever see any further official updates in the future.
If the idea of a Wirie appealed to you - the new KVH TracPhone LTE-1 (our news story) or the marine version of the Winegard ConnecT are targeting a similar market niche, only with the backing of larger companies that might be better able to offer ongoing support for the long haul.
But don't let company size factor too much in your planning when weighing whether to support small independent businesses. Even large companies occasionally shut down suddenly, and older and unprofitable product lines get orphaned all the time.
The best you can do is look for a long track record of great support, and hope that it continues into the future.