Garmin's GPS Cell Phone 'Nuvifone' Delayed

The company's first mobile phone will be delayed until 2009, but representatives said it will be rolled out with a wireless carrier or two.
Garmin said Wednesday it would delay its first entry into the mobile phone market until 2009 because of issues with wireless carriers.

When the company originally introduced the handset in January, it envisioned the phone to be sold as an unlocked device in the third quarter of this year, Garmin spokesman Ted Gartner told InformationWeek. But the device has received "tremendous" interest from mobile operators, and the company now plans to release the Nuvifone with a wireless carrier or multiple carriers.

Releasing a handset with a carrier requires certification and optimization, and this led to the delay, Gartner said. He did not say which carriers the handset will come out on.

"We want to make sure when it does roll out it has the best possible user experience," Gartner said.

The Nuvifone is Garmin's first attempt to combine its personal navigation service with a cell phone and mobile Web browser. It has a slim form factor and a 3.5-inch touch screen, and it will feature Google's local search application to find nearby venues based on a user's location.

The strongest feature may potentially be the device's personal navigation capabilities. Unlike the iPhone 3G, the Nuvifone will have robust turn-by-turn directions using the integrated GPS chip. The handset will come with maps of North America and Europe, and will be capable of delivering audible directions.

While the full details of the phone haven't been released, the device will have a camera that could automatically geo-tag photos, and it will be capable of receiving and sending e-mails. Representatives for Garmin didn't provide details on pricing, but there's a good chance that a carrier will subsidize the phone.

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