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Garmin Adds A Cell Phone To Its GPS Device

The Nuvifone's built-in camera takes pictures that are automatically tagged with latitude and longitude.

First Apple came out with the iPhone, then Google announced its mobile-phone software development platform, and now GPS maker Garmin is entering the mobile phone market with a hybrid device called the Nuvifone.




The Nuvifone is the first mobile phone by Garmin, featuring GPS, a touch screen, and a Web browser.
(click for image gallery)

The Nuvifone, which Garmin unveiled this week, combines a cell phone, a Web browser, and GPS. Its slim form factor, 3.5-inch touch screen, and on-screen keypad resemble another device that took the mobile market by storm last year: the iPhone.

"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," said Cliff Pemble, Garmin's president and COO, in a statement.

Unlike the iPhone, the Nuvifone is a GPS personal navigator and has built-in third-generation cellular technology for high-speed data access. The home screen features three icons: call, search, and view map for simple access to the phone's functions. Additionally, the phone's GPS works with the built-in camera to take pictures that are automatically tagged with latitude and longitude. Users can e-mail pictures to others, who can then navigate to the location where it was taken, said Garmin.

Once the Nuvifone is docked onto a vehicle mount, the GPS turns on automatically, the navigation menu is activated, and a person is then able to make hands-free calls while simultaneously using the navigation function, according to Garmin. The phone comes with maps of North America and Europe, as well as a built-in database with millions of points of interest. It works just like Garmin's standard GPS devices, offering turn-by-turn audible directions.

The Nuvifone is also Garmin's first device with the Google local search application, which serves up nearby venues based on a person's current location.

Garmin said the Nuvifone will be available in the third quarter of this year, but didn't provide details on specific markets and pricing.

There were over a billion mobile phones shipped last year, according to ABI Research. GPS, digital cameras, media players, and other capabilities are being integrated into phones to create multifunctional devices. Garmin, Google, Apple, and others see the mobile phone market as the next big opportunity, even though the companies are not traditional telephony players.

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