The big cell phone hootenanny called Mobile World Congress is about to start in Barcelona, and what better way to kick it off than for Garmin to make another attempt at its unsuccessful smartphone line? The big news: Garmin-Asus ditches that homegrown Linux-based OS it used on the old Nüvifone G60, embracing Android for the first time with the Nüvifone A50, pictured on the left. That silvery phone on the right is the M10, running Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile OS, version 6.5.3.
Both have 3.5" capacitive touchscreens, but the WinMo-running M10 has a higher-rez display compared with the A50's. As is Garmin's forte, both phones rock beaucoups GPS features, loaded with turn-by-turn nav with all the toys including Lane Assist with Junction View. And in the M10, Garmin's building location awareness into everything, including the calendar, web browser, email client and messaging.
This new push from Garmin could have a slight chance of success. The company needs a Hail Mary right about now, especially since Google is offering its maps and technology for absolutely free, a major profit center for Garmin. With Garmin's new push to Android, maybe those who need GPS navigation more than cellphoning will jump on board. But too bad it's just Android 1.6 (the latest is 2.1), and the processors inside these phones are not the fastest in the world, either. Good luck, Garmin.