Looks like Garmin isn't giving up on the Nuvifone just yet. The Company announced this week that they are opening a wireless research and development center in North Carolina. Looking to snap up some of the laid off Sony Ericsson engineers, Garmin is now hoping to compete head to head with the mobile phone manufacturers.
Smartphones, such as those from Apple and Nokia, are infringing on sales of personal navigation devices. Garmin is quickly trying to keep up with the multitude of navigation based applications that can be downloaded on GPS enabled phones, often times for free. Garmin's debut on the mobile phone market with the Nuvifone was a year late in coming and has sold poorly since. Garmin plans to introduce a new, more feature rich version later this year.
Some of the newer mobile phone applications closely match what personal navigation devices can do such as those from Tom Tom itself and Navigon. Navigon turns your iPhone, Symbian or Windows Mobile phone into a handheld or car mount GPS, complete with all NAVTEQ maps for North America and Europe. The app can also grab addresses directly from your contact list so you don't have to type them in.
If you use a handheld GPS for Geocaching there is now Groundspeak's Geocaching iPhone app that lets your phone do all the work for you, even alerting you to all the caches within the vicinity. You can use the same phone for navigation and recording your trip while hiking, biking, or climbing with applications such as MapMyHike or MapMyRide. Google's Nexus One supports Google Maps Navigation and ALK's CoPilot Live. Can Garmin really beat the functional versatility of a GPS enabled phone?
With $1.8 billion in cash, debt-free Garmin is evaluating several acquisitions of complementary technology to the Nuvifone. The Company is hoping that these acquisitions will help them become a more dominant player in the personal navigation war. But is it already too late?
What are you thoughts- do you think mobile phones will eventually replace personal navigation devices? If you prefer your phone, what apps do you use?