Nov 8th, 2009

Two years ago, the prospect of Garmin launching their own phone was rather awesome. After repeated delays, interest wavered amongst the tech-loving public and last month, the Garmin Nuvifone launched to limited excitement. Sure… commercials for the phone running on AT&T’s service are everywhere, but… does anyone care?

nuvifone-att

Garmin missed their window of opportunity. And last week, when Google announced that Android 2.0 includes a free full-featured turn-by-turn navigation solution called Google Navigation, that window of opportunity SLAMMED shut.

For over a year, Garmin has been promising an Android Phone in their Nuvifone lineup. In their 3rd Quarter Earnings Call (PDF link), the company confirmed their plans to launch an Android Phone:

android-nuvifone

That won’t happen until 2010, by which point we can assume a few other Android 2.0 devices will be readily available. So when they DO launch an Android Nuvifone… will anyone care?

I think plenty of people WILL care. Garmin DOES have the industry leading navigation software/service. But there is a reason their stock plummeted when Google Navigation was announced – far, FAR fewer people will care. Garmin might offer more features, a cleaner UI, more reliability and so-on and so-forth… but Google will continuously be working to improve their product and trust me – it WILL be continually improved. It’s already pretty darn good.

And free. Not to mention you can pretty much guarantee Google Navigation will have tighter integration with your Android Phone. Garmin’s mobile phone plans have seemed too little too late for two years. When they launch their first Android Phone in 2010, the same will be true. They’ve lost a step… they’re playing catchup… and they need something to help catapult them back to the top.

The slide above seems to show their Android Phone will be unveiled in 2010 but just a few few weeks ago a Garmin representative said they would announced the phone this year. My guess? Another delay.

At one point in time, Android could have been that “thing” to help them catch up, but now even THAT has lost its luster. And with every delay it only gets worse. Enough of the plans, upcoming announcements, promised products, etc… they need something NOW. So what the heck can Garmin do to regain our attention? And when/if Garmin launches their Android Phone next year, will you care?

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