Garmin-Asus will show off its first device based on Google's Android platform next month at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, an Asustek Computer executive said. Benson Lin, president of Asustek's handheld device business unit, said the smartphone partnership between Asustek and GPS firm Garmin would make the Android splash at the event, but did not provide further details about the device.
In addition to the Android phone, Garmin-Asus is expected to unveil a new Windows Mobile device, the M10. The device is expected to run Windows Mobile 6.5, have a 3.5-inch WVGA resistive touchscreen, a 5-megapixel camera and--naturally--GPS functionality. Lin said the companies' partnership, formed last February, will release four or five phones this year based on Windows Mobile and Android; the firm expects to ship around a million units this year.
Despite the expansion plans, the companies' smartphone partnership has not gained much momentum in the market over the past year or so. The long-awaited Garmin nuvifone G60 launched in October with AT&T Mobility. The device features HSDPA and WiFi, and has the same core functions as a high-end Garmin nuvi GPS device, including pre-loaded maps of North America with millions of points of interest as well as turn-by-turn navigation. However, that functionality is rapidly becoming standard as firms such as Google and, now, Nokia add free, turn-by-turn navigation to their smartphone efforts.
Earlier this month, Garmin said it plans to open a research and development center in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, and will hire as many as 40 people to work on its wireless products.
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