Garmin Offers No Comment On Reported Asustek Split

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Olathe, Kan. - Garmin's U.S. operation declined to comment on a Reuters report that Taiwain's Asustek Computer will withdraw from a partnership under which Garmin markets PND-equipped smartphones under the Garmin-Asus co-brand.

Asustek is an OEM maker of cellphones, including Garmin-Asus phones available since 2009.

In September, Garmin executives said its PND phone sales haven't met expectations and that they would decide in the next couple of quarters whether to stay in the market. Reuters reported that worldwide Garmin-Asus smartphone sales came to only $27 million in the quarter ending June.

 In the U.S, the company offers the $199 Android-based Garminfone touchscreen smartphone, available since June through T-Mobile. Garmin also offered the

Linux-based G60

touchscreen PND phone, available through AT&T since late 2009 but discontinued by the carrier earlier this year, Garmin told TWICE.

Asustek's decision comes in the wake of growing competition from other PND phone makers as well as competition from many Android-based smartphones, which offer free cellular-delivered Google Maps Navigation service. On many other phones, carriers offer their own subscription-based navigation services delivered via cellular. In addition, earlier this year T-Mobile launched the

Nokia 5230 Nuron

PND-phone at $69.99 with embedded PND. Pharos also offer PND phones.

 Like a traditional PND, PND phones like the Garmin-Asus, Pharos and Nokia models incorporate on-board maps, points-of-interest data, and routing algorithm. Because the maps and navigation brain reside in a PND phone itself rather than "in the cloud" on a carrier's server or a Google server, such phones are promoted as providing multiple advantages over cloud-based nav services. Consumers, for example, don't have to wait for maps and routing information to be downloaded over the cellular network, and unlike carrier-provided nav services, no subscription fee is required.

In addition, PND phones can be used for navigation even when a cellular signal is lost. In contrast, although most phones capable of receiving cellular-delivered nav services continue to guide users if they lose signal, guidance continues only if the user remains on the original recommended route and doesn't accidentally turn off that route.

That PND advantage, however, is also being eroded. Earlier this year, TeleNav launched its

TeleNav GPS Navigator 6.0 service

, a cellular-delivered subscription service available on select AT&T phones under the AT&T Navigator brand. This service, unlike other carrier-provided subscription services and the free Google Maps Navigation service, reroutes a driver who misses a recommended turn while out of cellular-signal range, TeleNav previously told TWICE. AT&T Navigator service, however, doesn't eliminate subscription fees.

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