Easily the most impressive assault on Apple's handset to date.
Much in the same way Apple muscled into the market with an incredible first time effort, so sat nav expert Garvin appears ready to show everyone (including Apple) how a phone should be made…
Today it has announced the ‘nüvifone’, an iPhone lookalike which incorporates that handset’s magic missing ingredients: 3G mobile broadband connectivity and full blown GPS.
Of course this latter feature is where Garmin excels so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but with fully preloaded maps of North America and Eastern and Western Europe onboard plus millions of POIs and turn-by-turn voice prompted instructions this is far more than a Google Maps gateway. In fact, even Google’s local search capability is in there meaning users can search for phrases like ‘coffee shops’ or ‘pizza’ and results will come up based on current location and relevance.
On top of this is access to ‘Garmin Online’, a service which offers constantly updating information such as real-time traffic, fuel prices, stock prices, sport scores, news reports, local events and weather forecasts.
Now all this wouldn’t be worth too much if the phone around it didn’t look rather special, but again here Garmin appears to have excelled. Exact dimensions were not revealed, but the nüvifone is claimed to be virtually identical to the iPhone and offers the same large 3.5in touchscreen finger driven interface, a Mobile Safari-esque full page rendering web browser, email client, digital camera and support for MP3, AAC and Mpeg4 multimedia formats.
Unlike the iPhone however, the nüvifone pushes the boat out to also include video recording, MMS, automatic location tagging on all photographs, instant messaging and – never to be underestimated – an easily accessible 3.5mm headphone jack.
“The nüvifone is an all-in-one device offering unmatched integration of utility and function in a single mobile device,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and COO. “This is the breakthrough product that cell phone and GPS users around the world have been longing for — a single device that does it all.”
Despite the inevitable hyperbole, Pemble may just be right. I urge a note of caution until we find out a few more details – notably: weight, battery life, onboard memory, third party apps and ”price” – but overall I can’t help thinking this will be one major hit when Garmin launches it sometime in Q3.
Of course by then Apple will also have a new iPhone announced. Why? Look at the nüvifone, look at the Samsung F490 – quite frankly, it ”’has to”’…