Garmin, Asus launch smartphone partnership

GPS firm Garmin and Asustek Computer announced that they have formed a strategic partnership to design and release co-branded smartphones featuring location-based services (LBS).

The partnership, called  Garmin-Asus, will launch a product line of nuvifone series phones. The long awaited Garmin Nuvifone will be rebranded as the Nuvifone G60 and will be the first product the partnership will launch, sometime in the first half of 2009. More information about the Nuvifone G60 will be released at Mobile World Congress.

"We believe that converged devices are an emerging opportunity," Garmin CEO Min Kao said in a statement. "This alliance is advantageous to both companies because it allows us to combine our resources and establish a strong foundation from which we will innovate and introduce the world to the benefits of LBS-centric mobile phones."

Garmin-Asus plans on producing phones on multiple operating systems, including Windows Mobile, Linux and Google's Android platform, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asustek, at a news conference in Taipei. The phones will feature a host of LBS functions, including services such as location-tagged photos and geo-directed social networking.

The original Nuvifone, which Garmin announced last January but then said last July it was delaying until 2009, received FCC approval in December. The device was being tested on 1900 MHz and 850 MHz bands, but there was no word on whether it will be paired with a specific U.S. carrier or what its price would be.  

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