AT&T to start selling Garmin nuvifone in October

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | 4:35 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — After more than a year of delays, Garmin Ltd.'s GPS unit/wireless device hybrid called nuvifone is finally going on sale in the U.S.

Garmin, based in the Cayman Islands with headquarters in Olathe, Kan., said Tuesday that AT&T Inc. will begin selling the nuvifone G60 on an exclusive basis beginning Oct. 4 at AT&T stores and online. The device will sell for $299 with a two-year agreement and $100 mail-in rebate.

The nuvifone, already on sale in parts of Asia, is a touch-screen device with many of the standard features of high-end phones, including a Web browser and 3 megapixel digital camera. It also shares features of Garmin's line of Global Positioning System-powered devices and can provide turn-by-turn driving directions and a search engine for nearby restaurants and stores.

For an additional $6 monthly subscription, users can receive updated traffic warnings, weather information, movie times and area fuel prices.

Announced in January 2008, the nuvifone is Garmin's entry into the cellular phone market and is considered key to the company's future. Cell phone carriers have increasingly been chipping away at Garmin's market, adding navigational features to their phones.

But the nuvifone's commercial release has been delayed repeatedly as Garmin has worked to iron out technical issues and negotiate with wireless providers to carry the device. It was originally scheduled to be on sale in the first half of this year.

In February, Garmin said it was teaming up with Taiwan-based Asustek Computer Inc. to develop and produce a co-branded line of feature-rich mobile phones.

Garmin has also said it is developing a device that will use Google Inc.'s Android software for release next year. The device's features or wireless carrier haven't been detailed.

Company spokeswoman Jessica Myers declined to say how long of an exclusivity period AT&T will have with the nuvifone.

Garmin shares added 61 cents to $37.46 in afternoon trading while shares of Dallas-based AT&T slid 19 cents to $27.24.

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