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Garmin, Asus Team To Tackle GPS Smartphones

Garmin and Asus are partnering to create a new line of navigation and location-centric mobile devices, dubbed the nuvifone series.

The two tech giants on Wednesday unveiled the strategic alliance, which will leverage the companies' navigation and mobile telephone expertise to build and distribute the mobile devices dubbed the Garmin-Asus nuvifone series. Devices will be on display at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month.

According to an announcement by both companies, the devices will be available later this year.

"We believe that converged devices are an emerging opportunity," Dr. Min Kao, Garmin's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

The two companies have been working together through an ODM relationship for more than a year forging a partnership that birthed the first nuvifone that was announced in 2008. That paring led to the development of the alliance, which will span GPS-enabled mobile phones.

ASUSTek CEO Jonney Shih said the alliance combines the strengths of both companies and the pair will invest heavily in R&D.

"Through this alliance, our companies will continue to develop innovations that simplify life," Shih said in a statement. "Our technologies should accommodate our customers, not the other way around. We believe all devices should perform and communicate seamlessly not just anytime and anyplace, but in real time, in real places, and we're confident the nuvifone series will meet this objective."

Garmin and Asus said the new nuvifone series will continue the path forged by the original nuvifone and will be LBS-centric devices that connect, communicate and navigate. The original Garmin nuvifone will also be rebranded as the Garmin-Asus nuvifone G60, which is expected to be available in the first half of this year.

With LBS functionally as the centerpiece of the Garmin-Asus partnership, the companies said the devices will offer the same turn-by-turn, voice-prompted navigation features found on high-end Garmin portable navigation devices. They will feature preloaded maps and millions of points of interest, allowing users to find specific street addresses, businesses and other locales by name or category.

The devices will also include Web access to online points of interest through local search. The nuvifone will also feature Ciao!, a social networking application bridging the gap between multiple location-based social networks and tying them into one device.

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