Asustek confirmed Monday that the Garmin-ASUS joint venture it entered into with GPS giant Garmin two years ago will end early next year. The confirmation comes following last week’s report that the unsuccessful venture would come to an end when the companies’ deal expires in January 2011. With the popularity of navigation apps for smartphones exploding over the past few years, the joint venture seemingly started as an experiment that posed a single question: are consumers interested in a product that is a personal navigation device first and a smartphone second? The answer, at least in this case, is no. Further details on the split will be provided Tuesday, though initial reports suggest that the two companies will continue to work together in some capacity after their current deal terminates. More →
It was all but written in the stars, and now it is also written in the Chinese paper Economic Daily — Garmin will soon be un-ASUS’d and ASUS is losing its Garmin. The two companies will reportedly not be renewing a two-year contract that birthed such mediocre smartphones as the Nuvifone M20 and T-Mobile’s Garminfone. Truth be told, each of the aforementioned handsets provided a navigation experience that was well above average when it comes to phones, but a great integrated nav experience seemingly isn’t enough to seal the deal with smartphone-seeking end users. The joint venture that started with a bunch of question marks and exclamation points nearly two years ago will end with an ellipsis, however, as the two companies will apparently continue working together in some capacity; Garmin will provide navigation software for future ASUS-branded handsets. We would love to say something like, “It was fun while it lasted,” but we imagine the entire ordeal was pretty stressful for everyone involved.
You know your proprietary mobile OS isn’t all that great when we go ahead and say: thank heavens for Windows Mobile. Garmin/ASUS have announced that their M20 “GPS that can make phone calls” will now ship with Windows Mobile 6.5, and “all” current M20 owners are eligible for the free upgrade. Sweet. The two companies claim 6.5 will be available in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech, Turkey and elsewhere on the M20 by the close of 2009. No love for Western Europe and the US? Oh well. WinMo 6.5 for the M20 is nice and all, but what about all those fellas who purchased a G60? More →
Garmin and Asus took advantage of Mobile World Congress back in February to announce the second nuvifone-branded handset that will reach market — the nuvifone M20. Despite the fact that the G60 has yet to hit store shelves, Garmin and Asus are seemingly anxious to display the fruits of their joint handset efforts and hey, were not going to complain. The M20 is tiiiiiiiny. Not so tiny that the duo couldn’t stuff a nice bright 2.8-inch VGA (640×480) touchscreen in there, but definitely small compared to other similarly-styled phones. As you would imagine, it’s all about navigation. Garmin uses an exclusive customized version of its GPS navigation software on its handsets — think of it as Garmin Mobile XT but tweaked and fully integrated into the OS. The OS on this little guy by the way, is Windows Mobile 6.1. We found that a bit odd considering Garmin whipped up its own Linux-based OS for the G60 but such is life. Garmin and Asus are actually planning to use a variety of different OSes for their devices, including Android. But we digress.
The way navigation is implemented in the M20 is awesome. Example: the M20 has a presence app that will display a list of all of your buddies. Select a buddy and his or her position will be plotted on a map. Another poke or two and you’re off, navigating to his or her location with Garmin’s great turn by turn nav app. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of course, as Garmin has really gone through and tied its navigation capabilities into the OS wherever appropriate and convenient. If you’re constantly on the go, the M20 is certainly a handset you should be on the lookout for when it drops sometime before Q2 is out. Hit the jump for more images of this little nav powerhouse all dressed up in yellow.