Garmin Ltd (GRMN.O) has chosen a wireless carrier for its long-awaited navigation-enabled smartphone set for a fourth-quarter launch in the United States, but the navigation device maker stopped short of naming the company.
All we have said is that we have signed a contract. We have not named who that contract is with, Garmin spokeswoman Jessica Myers told Reuters by phone.
Several media outlets and blogs have reported that AT&T Inc (T.N), which also carries Apple's (AAPL.O) iPhone, had bagged the rights to carry Garmin's smartphone, called the nuvifone.
Myers declined to comment on the reports as well as which carriers Garmin had been in discussions with, but confirmed that the nuvifone G60 -- built along with Taiwanese PC maker Asustek (2357.TW) -- is set to be launched in the United States later this year.
Garmin is betting on the smartphone to turn its fortunes as its bread-and-butter personal navigation device (PND) segment faces a threat from smartphones that offer navigation for less money than a subscription to a PND service. [nBNG469452]
But multiple delays before a launch in Taiwan late last month could have dented its chances in the hyper-competitive market, where it goes head-to-head against established leaders like Nokia (NOK1V.HE) and Research In Motion's (RIM.TO) BlackBerry, besides the Apple iPhone.
The nuvifone was originally announced in January 2008, and Asustek has set a modest 2010 shipment target of 1 million units for the smartphone, underscoring its vulnerability as a new player in the sector. [nTP89495]
Global sales of phones equipped with GPS chips, which use satellites to pinpoint the location of the user, is projected to grow a healthy 34 percent to 77 million units in 2009, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. [nLS717457] (Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal)