AT&T Launching Location-Centric Garmin Nuvifone - InformationWeek

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9/29/2009
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AT&T Launching Location-Centric Garmin Nuvifone

Garmin's smartphone includes the turn-by-turn navigation features found in its high-end GPS navigation devices.

AT&T Launching Location Centric Garmin Nuvifone
(click image for larger view)
Garmin Nuvifone
AT&T said Tuesday it would release the Garmin Nuvifone G60 Sunday, and the touch-screen handset could be useful to road warriors looking to ditch their personal navigation devices.

The smartphone integrates location-based services into multiple aspects of the proprietary Linux-based operating system, and it will come with the same turn-by-turn navigation features found in Garmin's high-end navigation units. This includes audible voice prompts for directions, as well as millions of points of interest like restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and other venues. Users can also mount it to the windshield to act like a regular navigation device.

The device can also provide users with their exact latitude and longitude coordinates with a touch of a button. This can be useful for things like remembering where you parked, as the handset will automatically mark where it was last removed from the windshield mount.

"The Nuvifone weaves location into nearly every facet of its functionality making it ideal for people who depend on location to navigate everyday life," said Cliff Pemble, Garmin's president, in a statement. "The Nuvifone has Garmin's easy-to-use interface, so navigating to a meeting directly from its calendar or contacts pages, or geo-tagging an e-mail or photograph with a location stamp, is intuitive, useful, and fun."

The handset also has all the features one expects from a smartphone, including Wi-Fi, 3G, a 3-megapixel camera with auto-focus capabilities, a full HTML browser, and Bluetooth. The Nuvifone will go on sale Oct. 4 for $299 after rebates and a new two-year contract, and users will have to pay $5.99 a month for premium content like traffic updates, movie times, fuel prices, and weather.

Garmin first introduced the Nuvifone nearly 19 months ago, but the device has faced multiple delays due to difficulties crafting a new phone OS, as well as carrier certification issues. The delays may have hurt the Nuvifone's potential market because its strong navigation features were relatively unique at the time, but now devices like Apple's iPhone can provide turn-by-turn voice navigation with third-party applications.

Earlier this year, Garmin decided that going into the smartphone space alone was not the right approach and it teamed with Asus to jointly develop location-centric handsets. The Garmin-Asus brand will also ditch the proprietary OS and focus on devices powered by Windows Mobile and Android.


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