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Asustek, Garmin ending joint smartphone development

Oct 26, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Asustek and Garmin announced they have made their last Garmin-Asus smartphones, which include several Linux- and Android-based Nuvifone and Garminfone models. Asus will instead offer its own phones, and Garmin will develop apps, say the partners.

On Oct. 26, U.S.-based navigation company Garmin and Taiwan-based Asustek (Asus), perhaps best known for its Eee PC mini-notebooks, announced that they'll no longer create co-branded Garmin-Asus mobile handsets together. Going forward, Asustek, under the Asus brand, will instead introduce its own line of mobile phones, some of which will come preloaded with Garmin navigation software.

The Android-based Garmin-Asus Garminfone
(Click to enlarge)

In a joint statement, the two emphasized that they will continue to sell and support their existing handsets, including the Android-running Nuvifone A50, the Windows Mobile-running Nuvifone M10 and Nuvifone M20, and the Linux-based Nuvifone G60. This list would also appear to include Garmin-Asus' latest Android model, now offered by T-Mobile, called the GarminFone (pictured above).

Additionally, Garmin will expand its line of mobile handsets and offer navigation and, likely, location-based applications through "certain consumer application stores," it said in the statement.

Asus and Garmin will report their third-quarter earnings on Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, respectively. During their earnings calls, each plans to offer more information about their individual future product road maps.

"We are moving from co-brand to brand cooperation, and we will use Garmin's solutions in our new Android phones exclusively for a couple of years," said Benson Lin, general manager of Asustek's personal mobile devices business, according to Reuters. Garmin "will be a very close partner," Lin added, declining to share shipment forecasts for the firm's planned smartphones for 2011.

Garmin will consider the performance of its smartphone unit over the next few quarters before deciding whether to continue it, Reuters reported, following a September interview. It's thought that a move to end its smartphone line could actually help to boost its bottom line.

The navigation market took a hit early this year when Nokia, the leading global phone maker, announced that it will begin offering a free version of Ovi Maps, for free walking and driving navigation, on all its GPS-enabled smartphones. Additionally, phones running the Android operating system have free access to Google Maps Navigation, a web-based GPS solution. The Apple App Store offers nearly 200 mapping applications, and Microsoft has also gotten in on the action, with Bing Maps.

Garmin rival TomTom currently offers an application for the iPhone through the Apple App Store. TomTom has also apparently signed a deal with HTC to provide its maps in HTC's integrated navigation solution, HTC Locations, initially available on the Android-based HTC Desire HD and HTC Desire Z.


The Reuters story on the end of the Garmin-Asus phone partnership may be found here.

Michelle Maisto is a staff writer for our sister publication eWEEK.

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