updated 11:10 am EDT, Tue October 26, 2010
Garmin and ASUS confirm split but make GPS deals
ASUS and Garmin today formally declared the end of their phone partnership but left room for collaboration and for expansion of Garmin's smartphone efforts to the iPhone and other platforms. Under the new deal, ASUS will make phones by itself in the future but will use Garmin GPS apps on its Android phones for "a couple of years," according to ASUS' mobile lead Benson Lin. Garmin will continue to sell and support devices like the Garminfone and nuvifone G60, but it won't launch new models.
In making the split, Garmin also indirectly confirmed rumors and said it would develop GPS navigator apps and other titles for 'certain consumer application stores.' With Android ruled out, the move would most likely see an iPhone app produced to compete with Magellan, Navigon, TomTom and other companies that already have mapping software in the App Store. Garmin had hinted at a Windows Phone 7 model in 2011, but the end of the current plan has cast doubts on whether Garmin would have more than a WP7 app.
The two companies had teamed up in early 2009 with the ostensible goal of becoming a major smartphone contender where neither had managed such scale before. Repeated delays of the nuvifone G60 had rendered obsolete its one time advantage over the iPhone, however, and lackluster sales of both Android and Windows Mobile models left the companies with little advantage over operating on their own. The combined entity was last known to have made just $27 million in total phone sales where companies like Apple, Nokia and RIM regularly make several billion each quarter.
For Garmin, the change represents the end of its one-time goal to rival the iPhone. At the original nuvifone debut, Garmin had claimed GPS as a key advantage over the then-limited iPhone. Technical delays allowed Apple to not only add GPS but full turn-by-turn GPS app support. Google Maps Navigation on Android has also been a blow, as it gives many users full-fledged, free driving directions as long as they're within domestic coverage.