Garmin to enter cellphone market with Apple iPhone lookalike

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.

79 Comments

  1. @Ottawa Mark,

    Exactly. Real competition is really good – for everyone. MS has set an unrealistic and unfavorable precedent by indicating that somehow the only goal a company should have is total domination, which by the way, has not done anything good for the consumer, and I think if/when MS falls it will prove to be unfavorable to MS itself. What a company should have is a healthy ongoing profit margin, always operating in the black, with plenty of $$$$ in the bank, all perpetuated by good ongoing product development. Hmm. Sounds like a company who makes products that I like to use – let’s see, what was that company again? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    The iPhone is at a point in it’s life cycle that competition will do nothing but good for it, and for those that consume it.

    <h1>Let the competition begin</h1> – maybe.

  2. Very cool idea, I don’t think the super sweet gps offsets the many features it lacks in comparison to the iPhone. Besides… The 2nd gen iPhone will totally have gps capability at that level and likely even more cool features. Plus the touch interface can’t currently be matched by anyone (due to the 17 zillion apple patents)

    I’m more interested in seeing what this does to all of the other smart phone manufacturers.

  3. Hmmm…looks very interesting. I like Garmin alot. A quite understated company that produces solid products.I have used their marine navigation stuff, and they are very reliable.
    This is just the sort of product with 3g , that i am looking for, having held back on the iphone for lack of 3g. Good competition for the iphone, which is no bad thing.

  4. 3rd Quarter – none working model demo – I smell vapour in the (w)air …

    Yes, all of this is lovely and will be great when it is actual and as we all know – all things announced 9 – 10 months out come to pass.

    OS? I just hope it is not some amalgamation of Windblows Mobile!!!

    (Hmmm.. a bit negative aren’t we)

    OK… I will play nice.
    Golly gee willerkers, My Science when can I have one?

    Will it be locked to a carrier? Is it being intro’d in the US? Then most assuredly. When will the US get the idea that carrier specific gadgets is so 19th Century?

    It is against the law in Australia to offer a mobile communications device from only one carrier. It must be unlocked. Funny the carriers still make heaps of money. Oh by the way, we also do not have to pay when someone calls us.

    Cheers, Mates!

  5. I imagine that the unit will be pretty expensive since GPS devices are not that cheap. Also it won’t be available for 6 months so that gives Apple time to come up with version 2 of the iPhone.

    It’s amazing that until Apple announced the iPhone no one had come out with these type of phones. Now everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon.

  6. I’ts of little consequence. 3G means within the US, you can use it within those few blocks where the 3G signal is actually acceptable; elsewhere, you’re on GPRS. Besides, it’s just like all those iPod killers (including the Zune). What the world seems to forget here is, resistance is futile. Apple has a brand that’s impossible to compete with. The iPod/iPhone brand is carved in stone so hard that nobody can erase it from the public minds.

    Example: the other day they had the Screen Actors’ Guild award show on TV. I had turned on the closed captioning on my TV (for those outside the US, closed captioning is technology on standard analog TVs that allows broadcasters to send subtitles of the dialogue on screen; its purpose is to assist hearing disabled persons). Most networks transmit captions in ALL CAPS, as was the case during this show. During the ceremony, they mentioned iPod at least four times, in different contexts. Every time it was mentioned, the captions had it with a lower-case “i” (“…AUDIENCES HAVE BEEN WATCHING IT ON THEIR iPODS…”). The person who typed these captions into the encoder had such strong brand perception that the had felt compelled to deactivate that Caps Lock in order to type iPod with that lower case “i”, EVERY TIME it was mentioned in the show! This is a seemingly insignificant thing but it points out to the power of Apple’s brands.

    No other brand (not even Garmin) stands much chance. Apple certainly won’t be asleep at the wheel, and we all know by the time this Garmin device is released (October), AAPL will be already selling iPhone 2.

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