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Garmin/Asus Announce Nuvifone Venture

Cayman Islands — Garmin and AsusTek Computer announced plans to release a line of Nuvifone GPS/smartphones this year, the first two of which will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 16–19.

The line will be called the Garmin-Asus Nuvifone series and will focus on location based services (LBS).

The first Nuvifone to be released this half is the product of a contract manufacturing relationship where Garmin hired Asus as an original device manufacturer.

Subsequent phones due this year are the result of a strategic alliance between the two companies.

The first phone will be called the Garmin-Asus Nuvifone G60. Its core capabilities will include LBS functions, such as a Ciao! application that combines various social-networking services so users on one service can share their location and social information with users on another service.

The G60 will offer the same turn-by-turn navigation and preloaded maps found on high-end Garmin personal

navigation devices said Garmin. It will also feature Internet searches for points of interest and will be based on a Linux operating system.

Garmin has announced that it is committed to producing an Android phone and some future Nuvifones are expected to be based on the Android platform.

On a conference call today, Garmin president and COO Cliff Pemble said the companies expect to offer mixed platforms going forward.

Further details on the G60 and a second Nuvifone will be announced at Mobile World Congress.

Garmin chairman and CEO Dr. Min Kao said that Asus’ expertise in smartphones will give Garmin a platform “from which we will innovate and introduce the world to the benefits of LBS-centric mobile phones.”

Kao said after working with Asus for a year on the first Nuvifone, Garmin concluded that a closer relationship would lead to a faster time to market for products. “We believe that through this strategic alliance we are uniquely positioned to deliver the world’s best integrated and most compelling GPS-enabled mobile devices.”

Pemble said Garmin will handle Nuvifone distribution in markets where it has strong distribution and ASUS will be responsible for distribution in markets where it is stronger.

Garmin’s plans to launch a Nuvifone were first announced in 2008.