Garmin May Consider “Hanging it Up”


Please excuse my pun in the title of this report, but Garmin’s not too confident about the future of their mobile phone front in the face of today’s competition. Once upon a time, it was cool to want a Garmin navigation because – well – who wouldn’t want a phone with navigation features built in? Sadly for them, the market’s changed dramatically since they first stepped into the circle with Google Maps on one of the most popular mobile operating systems in the world making quick work of the competition. As Google continues to update their primary package – which includes an extensive suite of navigation and directions features for the drivers, walkers, and bikers alike – people are having trouble finding new novelty in a phone loaded with a traditional GPS and navigation suite.


Many argue that there’s still room for a phone like what Garmin provides in the Garminfone for T-Mobile – as Google Maps depends on a constant network connection to pull down certain satellite information – but that’s negated by a handful of readily available solutions in the Android market from major names such as CoPilot, NDrive, and more (and let’s not mention the custom solutions provided at the carrier level by the likes of Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T out of the box here in the states).

Garmin’s CFO Kevin Rauckman says that if they’re ultimately not successful – and that’s looking to be the case – they’ll have to “sit back and evaluate that and consider making the best decision” for their business. According to him, that decision will need to be made based on their performance within the next couple of quarters. I liked the idea of a Garminfone – and was ecstatic to hear they’d be continuing their efforts with Android – but the pieces to the puzzle just didn’t fall into their rightful places. Many of us here on an Android enthusiast site wouldn’t go near a Garminfone due to how crippled the true Android experience is, but many of us are a minority compared to the people their products are targeted at. Chalk it up to bad timing, bad marketing, or just plain bad luck.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Garmin should consider making apps for Android rather than partnering with Asus to make phones. Now, a partnership with HTC that allows HTC Sense to be put on a phone running Froyo with a special Garmin app…that would be nice.

  2. i’m not even sure i’ll buy another garmin gps device. dont get me wrong, i trust garmin gps 100%, but google map is so more up to date with everything and does so much more with ease. perhaps when i go out of t-mobile zone i’ll activate it.

  3. Software features aside, the Garminphone was dated from a hardware perspective before it even debuted. Of course it was overlooked by the majority of the community.

  4. i played with the thing at the tmo store and it was no good. i love garmin but IMO they fubared their UI. it felt more like playing with a GPS that could make phone calls than a phone with navigation.
    i think garmin should refocus on app software and GPS hardware(ie providing the GPS specific hardware to samsung and the like) and forget trying to make a “Garminphone”. i also wouldnt mind seeing them team up with google to work on google navigation.

  5. I agree with Chris, they should definitely focus on making a full featured navigation app instead of a full phone. I have a Nuvi 760 and a Moto Droid, Ive contemplated selling the Nuvi since Google Maps/Navigation works just as well but still lacks some of the extra bells and whistles that the Nuvi contains. The only reason why I still keep the Nuvi (aside from the extra bells and whistles) is that I cant stream music and use Google Maps/Nav at the same time. Hopefully 4G/LTE will fix that limitation.

  6. I’d love to see Google Maps integrate with Garmin’s GPS system. That would be a win-win. I’d even pay for it.

  7. I don’t think they actually did their research prior to developing the Garminfone to see who would actually buy it. Phandroid, you should do it.

  8. How about considering firing the dumbass that decided to go forward with the idea of actually creating a dedicated phone instead of just partnering w/service providers and making a ton of cash that way?

  9. Garmin still have time to lift up their marketing strategy. They could go the same route as TomTom and build an app for Android, iPhone, and Symbian with a competitive pricing. Garmin is already well known throughout most major countries so having their names out there, people already knows their products are great. They’ve already built that strong name. I say in my opinion, they should make an application that will (and definitely can) compete with Google Navigation. Price the application at maybe around $50-$70? That price range sound reasonable. Please let me know if I’m right…

  10. Garmin needs to focus on a navigation app for the smartphone market. As others have said, the Garminphone was outdated before it was even available. And with vendors like Motorola, HTC, and now Samsung all throwing their superior hardware designs into the ring, Garmin’s battle was over before it even started.

    Honestly, I do not know why they are dragging their feet on this. They already have an app for Windows Mobile, Symbian, and another for Blackberry. With the introduction of the Garminphone running Android, it seems clear they have something for that platform as well.

    I ran the WinMo version of Garmin Mobile XT for years, and it was the only thing I really miss about my WinMo phone. It had data connectivity for Google search built in, traffic, and the maps were compatible with their handheld units, so it was even possible to upgrade.

    Their copy protection was a little inconvenient on WinMo, locking the maps to the SD card they were provided on, but this was relatively easy to overcome. Perhaps that is why they have been so reluctant; they are worried about piracy.

  11. I was an early adopter of the Garmin iQue 3600, the PDA with GPS. I loved it, but they dropped it – the GPS in it was, as far as I’m concerned, far superior to their stand alone units, but the integration between apps was problematic, and it just didn’t take off (but I’m still using Betty as my primary GPS). I agree that they should work on an app that can be used on these smartphones and leave the smartphone business to those who do it well.

  12. Correct me if I am wrong, but google navigation only works when you have data service. I was in a small mountain town a while back and had no data service.

    There is no way to download the gps data to the SD card. I have a cheap $70 gps that has a one gig SD that has all of north america on it. It still worked but not my google maps.

  13. Having a basemap and application such as Garmins is the best way to navigate, no phones nav app compares to that of my stand alone garmin GPS. Now if garmin can make an app for android that gives the phone the basemap and doesnt require data connection to pull down information and visual map, that would be sweet. Charge 10 bucks instead of ridiculous 60 bucks TomTom app charges for iOS and we have happy consumers. They need to focus on getting their gps technology into already nice phones like HTC, samsung, motorola, less on making a hardware platform of their own. I HATE HATE HATE gps on my epic, iphone, friends droid X, and friends Evo. I tell them to put em away and i pull out a real GPS-my Garmin Nuvi.

  14. mark in other words google nav works best when you need it the least.

  15. Garmin should just stick with “GPS” and “Software”, they are not a phone company. If a person hears Garmain, right away they think GPS not phone.

    Its like going to a “SteakHouse” and ordering “SeaFood”

  16. I have a Garmin A10 and I’m very happy with it. The reason is, it’s data free. Android apps that I’ve installed and use as well I’m happy with. I think Garmin has done well with this phone and they just need to get out there with it and promote it for what it is. A GPS phone that works if you go outside mobile phone range. I also have a Garmin Nuvi but I see myself using the A10 more now. Plus life time map updates come with it as well.

  17. I use my Droid X with Google Navigation for just about everything. But I still keep my old Garmin Nuvi 350 in my car just in case. Phone navigation will never take the place of a dedicated GPS until consumers can download the map packs to their phones all at once, so that a constant data connection is not needed. I’ve driven in the mountains, through tunnels, in deep woods, valleys, etc and in nearly all of those places, phones lose data signal. And without that, you’re essentially lost.

    Until consumers can have GPS in their phones coupled with preloaded map packs, whether from Google, Garmin, or whoever, there will always be a place for standalone GPS.

    Lastly, I can’t really think of a GPS enabled Smartphone that I would want to take geocaching or hiking. Smartphones are great for walking or driving around some downtown area. But once you get caught in a rainstorm or have to wade through 4 feet of river while geocaching, you realize the delicate hardware of Smartphones are not really meant for the great outdoors.

  18. Hey,
    I Think this phone is great.
    Easy to use , with the great advantages of android.
    If Garmin and/or Asus were anyway professional they would be promoting the the benefits.
    ie: 1 device = 3 functions, Phone, GPS,and Smartphone,
    a device to meet all your needs.
    Iphone didn’t get to be the most popular, by being the best only being the best Marketed.

  19. Garmin is great at what they do, providing GPS enabled devices for consumer use. Garmin is not a phone manufacturer, niether is ASUS for that matter. Garmin should have partnered with a company more focused on the mobile market.
    That being said, there is still the market for an android app for non-connected navigation (Get ready to buy a larger mSD chip) Android integration with other products like their bike computers and fitness equipment. I would purchase a bluetooth heart rate monitor or shoe pace pod along with an app that provides GPS mapping with on-phone data. I currently use the Garmin Forerunner 305, to meld that great watch’s functionality with my HTC EVO would really be a benefit for me.

  20. This phone was DOA due to the Garmin skin all over the OS, and due to the lackluster hardware, but more so due to the high price for the phone. This thing was priced to fail. They tried to slap a Mercedes pricetag on a Chevy, and convince people that it was worth it for the word Garmin printed on the front.

    Like everyone w/ any common sense has already said to Garmin: Put Mobile XT on the Market, price it reasonably, and watch the truckloads of cash come in. I would buy it immediately. I used to use Mobile XT on my old WinMo phone and it was (is) the best offline smartphone Nav software out there.

  21. My wife has the Garminfone from T-Mobile and it works just fine for her. She is not a tinkerer. She just wants the phone to work. The navigation is great and works anywhere. I agree that is was initially overpriced, but that came down quick. As new T-Mobile customers, we got it for $0 with a contract.

    Both of my kids have had problems with over-the-net navigation. Even with a working data connection, it gets laggy, which can result in flying past a turn.

    Me, I’m stuck with a Samsung Vibrant that can’t navigate its way out of a paper bag!

  22. I have 2 Garmin A10’s and find them to be an excellent phone/GPS/Smartphone. I have been a Windows mobile user for a very long time and needed a replacement. After seeing the A10 and that it was using Android i jumped on it. I agree that it could possibly use a faster processor but in reality it does the job it’s designed for. There is minimal lag when you are using the touch screen and I found very few apps that don’t work. That’s where a 2.1 upgrade would be nice but not totally necessary. The Garmin skin isn’t a pure Android UI but I don’t care as I want this device to be the everything device it is and it works. GPS is excellent, have sold my dedicated GPS. Also works outside of 3G range unlike the rest of the Google based phones. I would be very disapointed if Garmin stopped making these phones. If you want to play OS and skinning etc then get a HTC etc. If you wnat a device that will work get the Garmin. Stop bagging a great device

  23. I own an A50 and it works superbly.
    My passion is gemstone fossicking so i spend a lot of time in remote Australia and this phone has got me out of a few close calls. I have a friend who has the same hobby and we compared his iphone and my A50 while fossicking in remote Victoria. My phone made his look like a childs toy. Navigation wise he didnt stand a chance, it was all over the place, thats only when he managed to get a data signal. Even he commented that the nav feature on his phone was a load of you know what.
    The rest of my A50 also works perfectly and i wouldnt swap it for anything. Great job Garmin you definetly have a satisfied customer in me.
    Just my opinion.

  24. I just installed the 2.1 update. Result? my phone now had an additional home screen that can be “swipped” to the left or right, apps added to each page and customized. Basically it reminds me of the Driod Incredible. I ditched that phone for the Garminfone because GPS is my bigger focus. I LOVE the phone and it has a great new look. Marketing and T-moble only is whats killing sales. My Garminfone does anything a smart phone can do, And gets me there.

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