Asus, Garmin Jointly Developing GPS Smartphones - InformationWeek

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2/4/2009
02:53 PM
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Asus, Garmin Jointly Developing GPS Smartphones

The upcoming release of the Nuvifone smartphone is expected integrate location information into the core functionality of the handset.

Asus and Garmin will team up to deliver smartphones that emphasize location-based services.

The companies announced an alliance Wednesday to design, manufacture, and distribute co-branded phones under the Nuvifone brand. The original Nuvifone, which was announced more than a year ago, has yet to be released, but it will be rebranded as the Nuvifone G60.

The deal won't lead to a joint venture or new company, like Sony Ericsson, as each company will continue to independently make its own nonphone products.

"This alliance allows Asus and Garmin to seamlessly combine the strengths of both companies to offer market-leading mobile phone solutions that are of the best design and highest quality," Asus CEO Jonney Shih said in a statement. "Asus and Garmin both believe strongly in the continuous investment of R&D resources to unfailingly provide leading-edge innovation to people and businesses."

The companies will announce a new Nuvifone smartphone at this month's Mobile World Congress, but it's unclear what features it will have or what operating system it will run. The G60 uses a custom Linux-based operating system, but future versions are expected to use more established players like Microsoft's Windows Mobile or Google's Android. Both companies are members of the Open Handset Alliance, and Garmin has said it's already working on an Android device.

What is clear is that the Nuvifone smartphones will have a strong integration with a user's location. The companies said most other platforms silo location information, but the Nuvifone series will tie this data to the phone's core functions. This will lead to mapping programs, turn-by-turn directions, mobile social networking with strong location elements, and other services.

The companies said they plan to have multiple models out this year, but they have not yet announced if any carriers will be carrying and subsidizing the smartphones.

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