Garmin is the big bad boy in the GPS market, but they've now thrown their hat into the mobile phone ring with the Garmin nuvifone (not nuviphone). Garmin recently announced the quad-band nuvifone, a full-fledged GSM HSDPA smartphone built using Garmin's proprietary operating system. The nuvifone of course sports GPS navigation but it also adds web surfing, e-mail, and a built-in camera.
How Garmin was able to extend their "specialized" GPS operating system into something with full-fledged mobile phone and web surfing capabilities is an amazing feat. Though perhaps they started their operating system from scratch. Garmin has been mum on the technical details and the pricing will a release date set for the Fall. Though the fact that its HSDPA means AT&T or potentially T-Mobile.
Some might be quick to compare the nüvifone with the Apple iPhone. Like the iPhone the nuvifone will be 100% touch-screen with no button navigation. However, the touch-screen won't be multi-touch like the Apple iPhone.
However, the Garmin nuvifone has one up on the iPhone in that it it includes Google Local Search, which can sort search results based on your current location and give you star ratings. The iPhone uses inaccurate triangulation to figure out your location where the nuvifone gives a much more precise location via its built-in GPS. You can be walking down the streets of New York City and see local restaurants, stores, hospitals, etc. Garmin espouses this feature when it says:
The nüvifone is Garmin's first device to include Google local search capability, which harnesses the vast point of interest information available from the world wide web. Nüvifone users can search for locations like “coffee shops” and Google will sort the results based on the user’s current location and relevance. Information provided by Google includes a web-based rating so that users can select the most appropriate destination and route directly to it. In addition, the nüvifone includes a web browser incorporating premium features and touchscreen operation for an optimum mobile browsing experience.
Some cool features include an MP3 and MPEG4/AAC video player. The MPEG4/AAC video player marks the first time Garmin has added video support. TomTom, Garmin's GPS competitor, has had video capabilities for some time. Another neat feature is the ability to find your car in an unfamiliar spot or crowded parking lot by automatically marking the position in which it was last removed from the vehicle mount. I actually have used this "find my car" feature using my old PocketPC Destinator GPS when I visited Disney World.
Also, Garmin Online offers real-time traffic and the ability to take pictures that are automatically tagged with location information. Great for geocache hunts. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is also included on the nuviphone. I really like Garmin products. I own a Garmin 2720 and have purchased a few Garmin nuvi 350 GPS units, including having to buy one to replace one stolen in Disney World. I will definitely have to get my hands on a nuvifone in the Fall and post a review. No mention of a VoIP application such as Skype, but my guess is there won't be one since they will make a deal with a carrier such as AT&T to subsidize the cost. Further, there won't be an SDK so unlike the Apple iPhone, the nuvifone won't be hackable to add third party apps.
nuvifone features include:
• Camera, video camera, MP3 and MPEG4/AAC
• Google local search
• Garmin Online services - traffic, weather, fuel prices, hotel discounts, etc.
• nuvi-like navigation on the road or in pedestrian mode
• Email, text, and instant messaging (IM)
• Preloaded maps of North America, Eastern and Western Europe, or both
• Turn-by-turn, voice-prompted directions
• Speaks the names of the streets
• “Where am I?” feature displays your latitude and longitude coordinates, the nearest address and intersection, and the closest hospitals, police stations and gas stations.
Garmin Online service with dynamic up-to-date information:
• Real-time traffic
• Fuel prices
• Stock prices
• Sport scores
• News reports
• Local events
• Weather forecasts
• Google local search
• Proximity, location based search (coffee shops near me)
• Access to millions of geo-located landmark/sightseeing photographs available through Google’s Panoramio picture sharing site
The official Garmin release is after the jump... Garmin® nüvifone™ Takes Personal Navigation and Communication to the Next Level
New York/January 30, 2008/PR Newswire — Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (Nasdaq: GRMN) and the world’s leading GPS manufacturer, today announced its entrance into the mobile phone market with the nüvifone, an all-in-one, sleek and slim, touchscreen device that combines a premium phone, mobile web-browser, and cutting-edge personal navigator. The nüvifone is a work of art in features, design and functionality and is destined to transform how individuals connect, communicate and navigate their life.
“The nüvifone is an all-in-one device offering unmatched integration of utility and function in a single mobile device,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and COO. “This is the breakthrough product that cell phone and GPS users around the world have been longing for — a single device that does it all.”
The nüvifone is an innovative mobile phone that has a wide range of advanced yet easy-to-use features. The all touchscreen device is the first of its kind to integrate premium 3.5G mobile phone capability with an internet browser, data connectivity, personal messaging, and personal navigation functions in one device. When powered on, the 3.5-inch touchscreen display reveals three primary icons — “Call,” “Search,” and “View Map” which allow the user to effortlessly master the nüvifone’s functions.
The nüvifone is the ultimate multi-tasker. Calls are easily initiated by tapping the “Call” button and selecting a name from the contact list or by using the on-screen keypad. When the user is trying to juggle talking on their phone while entering their vehicle to start a trip, the nüvifone makes the transition simple. When the nüvifone is docked onto the vehicle mount, it automatically turns on the GPS, activates the navigation menu, and enables hands-free calling so that the user never misses a beat in the conversation and is able to begin routing to their destination with ease.
Customers familiar with Garmin’s industry leading nüvi® product line will feel right at home using the nüvifone’s personal navigation features. It includes preloaded maps of North America, Eastern and Western Europe, or both, and allows drivers to quickly find a specific street address, establishment’s name or search for a destination by category using the nüvifone’s built-in database with millions of points of interest. Turn-by-turn, voice-prompted directions guide the user to their destination. If they miss a turn along the route, nüvifone automatically recalculates a route and gets them back on track, speaking the names of the streets along the way.
The nüvifone is Garmin’s first device to include Google local search capability, which harnesses the vast point of interest information available from the world wide web. Nüvifone users can search for locations like “coffee shops” and Google will sort the results based on the user’s current location and relevance. Information provided by Google includes a web-based rating so that users can select the most appropriate destination and route directly to it. In addition, the nüvifone includes a web browser incorporating premium features and touchscreen operation for an optimum mobile browsing experience. The nüvifone also includes personal messaging functions, including email, text, and instant messaging.
For the ultimate in safety, the “Where am I?” feature lets users touch the screen at any time to display the exact latitude and longitude coordinates, the nearest address and intersection, and the closest hospitals, police stations and gas stations. The nüvifone also helps drivers find their car in an unfamiliar spot or crowded parking lot by automatically marking the position in which it was last removed from the vehicle mount.
In addition to navigation, the nüvifone includes access to Garmin Online™, an online service offering constantly-updating information such as real-time traffic, fuel prices, stock prices, sport scores, news reports, local events and weather forecasts.
The nüvifone also includes numerous mobile entertainment applications. The built-in camera allows individuals to take a picture that will automatically be tagged with the exact latitude and longitude reference of where the image was taken. The user may then save the image so they can navigate back to the location, or email the image to a recipient who can navigate directly to the location. The nüvifone also provides direct access to millions of geo-located landmark and sightseeing photographs available through Google’s Panoramio picture sharing site. The Panoramio photo search feature enhances the enjoyment and adventure of sightseeing in an otherwise unfamiliar location. Other multimedia functions of the nüvifone include a built-in video camera, MP3 and MPEG4/AAC.
Garmin anticipates that the nüvifone will be available in the third quarter of 2008. Specific details about pricing and sales partners will be announced in the future. Additional information about nüvifone is available at www.garmin.com/nuvifone.
About Garmin International Inc.
Garmin International Inc. is a member of the Garmin Ltd. (Nasdaq: GRMN) group of companies, which designs and manufactures navigation, communication and information devices - most of which are enabled by GPS technology. Garmin is a leader in the general aviation and consumer GPS markets and its products serve aviation, marine, outdoor recreation, automotive, wireless and OEM applications. Garmin Ltd. is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, and its principal subsidiaries are located in the United States, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit Garmin’s virtual pressroom at www.garmin.com/pressroom or contact the Media Relations department at 913-397-8200. Garmin and nüvi are registered trademarks and nüvifone and Garmin Online are trademarks of Garmin Ltd. or its subsidiaries. Anticipated product availability dates are based on management’s current expectations and are not guaranteed.