Monday, February 4, 2008

Nüvifone Set to Topple Apple's iPhone

Garmin NuvifoneGarmin’s latest announcement introduces us to the nüvifone, the company’s ambitious first foray into the mobile phone market. Obviously, any phone carrying the Garmin brand will be heavily skewed towards navigation and geo-tagging functions, and the nüvifone delivers, in theory. Success in this realm, for Garmin, will depend on how well they pull off the integration of the GPS enabled functions with the rest of the phone’s capabilities. On paper, the nüvifone meshes internet browsing, navigating, photographing, messaging and actually carrying on a conversation with style and functionality.

Garmin NuvifoneThe phone is reportedly 3.5G capable, this basically means with the right network support the nüvifone would have the fastest download speeds ever experienced on a phone. At first glance the 3.5” touch screen and similar overall size makes the nüvifone look like a bootleg iPhone. Looks can be deceiving and in this instance they are. As fundamental to the phone’s operation as music playback on the iPhone, the nüvifone takes navigation seriously, while still remembering it’s mostly a toy at heart.

Some geo-tagging options are all fun and games like the automatic picture position tagging. A photo taken with the built-in camera will be appropriately geo-tagged; you could then send the photo to a friend just to let them know where you’re at. If they happen to have a nüvifone as well, they could then navigate directly to the photo’s position. Presumably you’d stay there to meet up with them. This isn't any better than just telling your mates were you’re at, but loads more fun.

Another, more plausible, example of the seamless navigation integration would be going from walking and talking; to driving, navigating, and conversing hands-free. As soon as the phone snaps into the car mount cradle the audio transfers to the speaker phone and the navigation function automatically activates.

Nüvifone also tags your position as soon as you take the phone off the car mount. This promises to make locating that out of the way parking place much easier. Plus, it took you an hour to find an open spot, you don’t want it take that long or longer to find your way back to it.

Garmin has built a huge database of points of interest, but they also realize that many folks use and trust Google to search points of interest. Using Google, the Garmin accesses all the resources of the web, including user generated ratings, to sort points of interest search results. They’ve also geo-positioned landmarks within the POIs database and linked them with sightseeing photographs from Google’s Panoramio, thereby enhancing those travels to unfamiliar destinations.

Added as more of a side note, the phone also plays movies and music, but I wouldn't throw out your iPod just yet.

If Garmin successfully completes this ambitious undertaking, the big question then becomes which carrier would offer this phone? AT&T would do well to keep their bid in front of the Garmin decision makers; having the two most feature-rich phone offerings would certainly boast profits, and maybe bring plan costs down. Well, one can dream, can't one?

<..via press release..

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