At CES this year we spent way too much time hounding the Garmin and Asus folks about their respective smartphones. Why aren’t you displaying them at CES? Any word at all? Come on, you know you want to tell us! Sometimes that works and someone will eventually say something they shouldn’t. Usually it’s not much, just a ballpark time on when we can expect a launch. Still, “we can’t say anything until the summer,” is better than, “We’re not showing it at CES, end of story.”
We didn’t get anything out of anyone and now we now why. The two companies are combining their efforts and releasing one smartphone that they hope will be the one to be them all or should we say, the one to beat the one as Apple's iPhone continues to dominate the market.
While Asus had been commissioned to build Garmin’s latest Nuvifone, the G60, the company dropped hints in December about the possibility of an Asus phone that borrowed form the Eee brand. We expected the company would release its own phone as well as helping out Garmin with the G60 but the companies yesterday announced that they plan to deliver a line of phones together, with their first co-branded product (the G60) coming in the first half of 2009.
Jonney Shih Chairmen of Asustek said that the Garmin-Asus phone will likely launch worldwide by next year and that the G60 will be announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The MWC is already pegged to be the launch pad for both Dell and Acer’s additions to the smartphone family.
We’ve said before that we don’t expect anything groundbreaking from Dell or Acer and unfortunately, we feel the same about this. The only trick that we can count on the G60 for is turn-by-turn, voice-prompted navigation features found on the Garmin portable navigation devices. It will come preloaded with maps and millions of points of interest that allow drivers to quickly find a specific street address, establishment’s name or search for a destination by category.
Aside from the GPS features, we can’t quite convince ourselves the two companies will show us something we haven’t seen before; but we love the idea that they’ve decided to collaborate on a smartphone rather than release their own separate devices (anything to keep the number of smartphones saturating the market down to a minimum). That said when Asus started dropping hints about a handset in December we were optimistic, so who knows. We’ll keep you posted during MWC.