September 30, 2009

Garmin’s Nuvifone in U.S. debut

U.S. technology innovator Garmin Ltd. said it would dive into the U.S. smart phone market Sunday with the North American debut of its Nuvifone.

The cell phone is expected to retail for $299 with a two-year AT&T service contract that provides for a $100 rebate, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.

A version of the phone has been available in Asia, but it's U.S. debut has been delayed, the newspaper said.

The Nuvifone is the key part of Garmin's strategy in the portable navigation segment of their business, said industry analyst John Bright at Avondale Partners.

For Garmin, a phone is an extension of the company's global navigation expertise, somewhat the reverse approach of smart phone makers who have added global positioning into phones as an extra.

Although the feature is widespread now, in Garmin's case, we're talking about a PND (portable navigation device) that is a phone and the two truly function together, said analyst Jeffrey Evanson of Daugherty & Co.

If you give a Garmin device to your grandmother, chances are she'll be able to get from Point A to Point B with that device. And that's really the secret sauce that Garmin provides, Bright said.