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Nuviphone Launch ‘Getting Close’

Overland Park, Kan. — Garmin said its Nuvifone GPS/smartphone, whose launch has been delayed since last year, is now in the second stage of carrier certification.

At a shareholders meeting Friday, Garmin said the Nuvifone will be released on the open market in Asia this month or early July and said it is “getting very close” to a carrier launch of some models in the U.S., according to Garmin president and COO Cliff Pemble.

When asked about the cause of the delays Pemble blamed the company’s desire to differentiate its user interface from other smartphones.

“Originally we thought we’d launch the phone into the open market, but because of the strong interest we had from carriers, we chose to focus on a carrier-centric launch and meeting carrier requirements is a lot of work,” he added.

Garmin has teamed with Asustek to produce two Nuvifones — the Linux-based G60 and Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional-based M20, this year with an Android-based model due next year.

Regarding the recent reports of disrepair to the U.S. GPS satellite network, Garmin CEO and chairman Dr. Min Kao said, “We believe there’s no strong reason to fear a significant gap in service because our national defense … and hundreds of millions of consumers all rely on GPS today … We don’t feel that it’s likely for our government to allow a significant gap in service.

Last month a federal watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), released a report stating GPS service might fall in reliability without needed repairs by the Air Force.