Garmin today announced its entrance into the mobile phone market with the nuvifone, an all-in-one touchscreen device that combines a premium phone, mobile web-browser, and personal navigator.

“The nuvifone 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, in the press release. “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 nuvifone is a touchscreen device featuring 3.5G mobile phone capability with an internet browser, data connectivity, personal messaging, and personal navigation function. When powered on, the 3.5-inch touchscreen display reveals three primary icons — “Call,” “Search,” and “View Map.”

Calls are initiated by tapping the “Call” button and selecting a name from the contact list or by using the on-screen keypad. When the nuvifone is docked onto the vehicle mount, it automatically turns on the GPS, activates the navigation menu, and enables hands-free calling.

Customers familiar with Garmin’s industry leading nuvi product line will be familiar with the nuvifone’s personal navigation features. It includes preloaded maps of North America, Eastern and Western Europe, or both, and allows drivers to find a specific street address, establishment’s name or search for a destination by category using the nuvifone’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, nuvifone automatically recalculates a route and gets them back on track, speaking the names of the streets along the way.

The nuvifone 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. Nuvifone 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 nuvifone includes a web browser incorporating premium features and touchscreen operation for an optimum mobile browsing experience. The nuvifone also includes personal messaging functions, including email, text, and instant messaging.

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 nuvifone 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 nuvifone 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 nuvifone 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 nuvifone 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 nuvifone include a built-in video camera, MP3 and MPEG4/AAC.

Garmin anticipates that the nuvifone 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 nuvifone is available here.

MacDailyNews Take: Competition is good. That said, we’re sure Apple’s attorneys – especially when it comes to iPhone (200+ patents that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has stated that Apple plans to vigorously defend) – are on the lookout for patent infringement, trade dress protection, etc.