Garmin Android In 2010, Do You Care?


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?


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:


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?

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

HTC Plotting Android, Chrome OS Netbook?

Previous article

Samsung Behold 2 On Video

Next article

You may also like


  1. Based on the very good usability of their dedicated devices, I will certainly be interested in anything Garmin puts out. Hopefully an extra level of polish on their products (beyond just navigation) will be enough to keep them afloat.

  2. One thing they can do is have a lot of internal memory along with an SD slot. Everyone else is skimpy on that part. The g60 has 4 gigs and 2 of those are used for maps.

  3. Your talking as if Garmin will go out of business if they don’t start producing some mobile handsets akin to the iPhone or Droid. Need I remind you that Garmin is first and foremost a GPS Device manufacturer…for boats? Even if they were to pull out of the handset/car nav. market today, they wouldn’t die because they still have plenty of customers who need their products to make sure they don’t hit a coral reef.

    That said, yes, I agree that they need to stop promising us stuff and start doing something. If they were more like Valve promising Half Life 2 Episode 3, we’d be more willing to wait, because we already know that HL2 and it’s first two episodes were good. If Garmin had already released a handset that we liked, and had specs that competed with the top mobile devices out there then sure, we’d anticipate things they have to offer. But at this point their just another one of those companies sitting on the sidelines while the official handset companies like Moto and HTC take the spotlight…not that that’s a bad thing, just that this sort of “ho hum” attitude could be applied to pretty much any other Android handset that isn’t made by a major company/doesn’t have good specs.

    …like that Dell phone.

  4. You’re*

  5. i glanced over the page and saw gaming. now im sad

  6. Garmin will have to do more with the phone than make it an GPS that can make calls. The Cliq gets its buzz from its “social skills”, the Droid because of its sleek design, specs and best of all being the first Android phone with 2.0 but with the release of Google Navigation, Garmin’s GPS Navigation buzz has been cut into. I have been waiting for the Garmin phone for the simple fact that I have no doubt that they will release a device with high specs and a great GPS reciever and software but I am also enthusiastic about Google Navigation. Its something good that can only get better.

  7. @Del
    I don’t think Rob is trying to say that Garmin will be going out of business cause of Google navigation on the Droid, but rather just a step behind. I’m sure Garmin knows that Google has the potential to make their navigation good enough that people won’t see the benefit in paying more money for a Garmin phone that doesn’t have the features of an Android based phone with Google Nav.

  8. WHAT is with the CAPS in THIS article? It DOES feel like I’m being YELLED at, occasionally. As a writer, you have more options for emphasis… e.g., bold, italic, underline. CAPS just doesn’t do it for me :)

  9. I tested th GPS in my new HTC Tattoo using Android today and I must say that Google and Android has a veeery long way to go before you get the same experience from an Android Phone as from a dedicated GPS handheld(!) navigator.

    If Garmin can combine the experience from their handheld GPS devices they have today with the flexibility of Android they will be in this game for a very long time. Whatever Google does.

  10. @bengtb
    What GPS app did you test? Google Maps Navigation is only available for Android 2.0. The last I checked the Tattoo only has 1.6

  11. @bengtb

    I’m sure you aren’t talking about the new Android 2.0’s navigation app… I mean, it has its issues (such as the hilarity of the verbosity of a few of the road names and how long it takes for the TTS engine to spit it out) but I prefer it to my stand alone GPS. Especially after you factor the HUGE time savings that the search-by-voice gives you. <3 you Google Voice Search.

  12. If I hadn’t gotten excited about the Nuvifone, I probably wouldn’t have looked into android options, and I might not have the Droid that I now love. It may not have gotten out there in time to really change things, but just the idea of it got some people who were looking to replace their phones, AND have a decent GPS, excited.

    As I read somewhere else, what they needed to do was make it a top-of-the-line GPS device. I heard that they modeled it after the Nuvi 200-series, when they really should have put in all the features of the 800-series. Hopefully, they’ve learned their lesson. The fact that they’re moving to Android bodes well for the rest of the phone experience being better.

  13. @monkey
    i think he means the gps hardware. garmin will make sure that the gps hardware that comes with the phone will be top of the line. i havent tested out the droid gps, but i know for a fact that my g1 gps does not stand up to the challenge.

  14. I’m a Droid owner, I may never care about another phone ever again. Ah, puppy love….

  15. No (I don’t care). But honestly I’d rather buy a phone from a company that has experience in building phones, not navigation.

    I need a dedicated GPS unit anyway, as my girlfriend will not be borrowing my phone. It’s going to be a Garmin or TomTom, whichever offers me the best deal. I couldn’t care less about the OS it runs on.

    My phone, now there’s another story.

  16. Ever thought about users not living in the US? Right now there is no Google Navigation app for them! Ever thought about e.g Europe? Traveling from one country to another with an online navigation app is a now go because of the roaming costs. So ther still is a market for good offline navigaiton software and for navigation devices!

  17. Yeah, another argument for dedicated GPS system.

    9 out of ten times when I use a GPS it’s when I leave the country, living less than 7 km from the german border, and less then 50km from the belgium border. Crossing those with “online” navigation would mean a €1000 Euro phone bill.

    In 5 years everyone will probable have Navigation on their phone, but not for now.

  18. Garmin makes more than just (IMHO) the best dedicated car GPS system around. They also make the GPS systems for hiking, flight, maritime use and other venues. The people who have no interest in or want to ditch the dedicated system will move to Google Nav. Personally, I’ll stick with my Garmin, because let’s be honest, while my Droid can do a lot, it doesn’t do a lot perfectly (ie, unlike a dedicated system) and there is a limit to multitasking and the battery.

  19. The only thing Garmin has over Google is locally stored maps (who has 3g access when you’re out in the middle of nowhere), so yes, I’d be very interested. On the other hand Garmin has been consistently going down in terms of quality of their devices and maps (especially POIs), where Google truly shinges.

  20. I was under the impression that when my boat was again ready to launch that I would be able to use my Droid to mark spots on reefs for returning to good dive spots using Long.& Lat. no.’s Is this not possible, would someone please respond. Sincerely, [email protected]

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in News