Garmin said its flagship handset would be delayed again because of difficulties creating a unique mobile platform.
The Nuvifone was introduced in January 2008, and Garmin wanted to bring its navigation expertise to the surging smartphone market. With a 3.5-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, and strong integration with GPS and location-based services, the Nuvifone appeared to be a strong alternative to handsets like Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry line.
The handset was expected to be sold in the third quarter of 2008, but it faced delays because of the carrier certification, Garmin said. The Nuvifone was then expected in the first half of 2009, but the company said it would be delayed further because of complications building the custom Linux platform.
"We certainly haven't performed to our expectations, but we believe we have a very unique device and we still have a lot of interest in the device from carriers," CEO Cliff Pemble said during Garmin's conference call to investors.
The handset is expected to be released in the second half of the year, and the company said it still expects the Nuvifone to generate between $100 million and $200 million. The multiple delays may sink the Nuvifone's chances, though, as its location-based features may not be as unusual or appealing as they were a year ago. For example, the iPhone 3G can't do turn-by-turn navigation, but the upcoming 3.0 software will enable developers to create rich, strong navigation apps for Apple's handset.
The difficulty of entering the mobile market is one reason Garmin teamed with Asus to develop future Nuvifone smartphones. The companies are prepping multiple location-centric handsets that use established operating systems like Windows Mobile and Google's Android.
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