Garmin: Oh, You Mean THAT Android Phone?!? - InformationWeek

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12/22/2008
11:45 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Garmin: Oh, You Mean THAT Android Phone?!?

Updated: This morning, the Internet was rife with reports that Garmin, maker of GPS equipment, will be releasing phones based on Google's Android operating system in the latter half of 2009. Is it, or isn't it?

Updated: This morning, the Internet was rife with reports that Garmin, maker of GPS equipment, will be releasing phones based on Google's Android operating system in the latter half of 2009. Is it, or isn't it?ORIGINAL STORY:

A seemingly harmless report in the DigiTimes, a Taipei-based publication, reported on Garmin's performance this far this holiday season. The story quotes Garmin's head of marketing in the Asian market, and reports, "In addition to GPS PNDs, Garmin will launch Nuvifone, its first GPS-enabled handset, in the Taiwan market in the second quarter of 2009. Garmin also plans to launch self-developed Android handsets in the second half of 2009, with production to be outsourced."

Garmin first announced the Nuvifone in February 2008. I was able to see a prototype of it at the Mobile World Congress conference. It is iPhone-esque, and offers a touch-based user interface with enhanced GPS functions. Despite the February announcement (10 months ago), Garmin has yet to get the Nuvifone to market, and recently pushed the introduction of that phone back.

I read this morning's report in DigiTimes about Garmin's plans to introduce Android-based hardware later this year with great interest. When I called Garmin to follow up, I was met with disappointment.

Garmin media relations manager, Ted Gartner, said that, "There were many inaccuracies reported by the DigiTimes." He also said that Garmin is working on a statement to debunk most of the "facts" reported by DigiTimes.

So if you were excited about the possibilities of seeing Android-powered phones from Garmin, don't get your hopes up.

UPDATE:

Ah, the joy of reporting on stories while they are still in the middle of unfolding...

Garmin just sent out a press release refuting most aspects of the DigiTimes' story. The press release didn't clarify exactly which facts in the story were incorrect, but it does drop another bomb. In the e-mail sent to me by Garmin's press relations team, the company said, "We do have an Android-based phone under development; however, we are not releasing any additional information about that product at this time."

So there you have it. Garmin IS working on an Android phone.

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