Just a few weeks after Garmin's CFO let slip that the company would be forced to make some tough decisions about Garmin's smartphone business (or lack thereof), rumors are flying that Garmin is developing an iPhone app version of its popular nuvi navigation software.
Magellan, TomTom, Navigon, and others have all already embraced Apple's platform and have released iPhone / iPod versions of their navigation software via iTunes. Yet for some reason, Garmin Mobile remains available only for Blackberry. That's a shame, because Garmin's mobile software is really quite good, and easily outperforms many other smartphone-based GPS solutions.
I suspect Garmin's ill-fated nuvifone is the main reason we haven't seen a Garmin GPS app for the iPhone or Droid yet. Hopefully that's all about to change.
There's no doubt that smartphones are taking market share away from Garmin's dedicated PND business -- to the tune of millions of units per year, and growing. Garmin's strategy of releasing Garmin-branded cell phones, and excluding the two most popular mobile platforms (IOS and Droid), is only taking more market share away.
Think about it - is anyone really going to buy a Garmin mobile phone? If you wanted a Garmin GPS THAT badly, you'd just buy a PND. Research suggests that customers view GPS navigation as a commodity, and that it has little influence over the cell phones they ultimately buy. In other words, no rational buyer is going to opt for the Garminfone over an iPhone or Droid based on the GPS capabilities alone. And it's just not realistic to think that Garmin is going to create a more compelling smartphone offering than Apple, Google, or Microsoft.
Garmin needs to stop throwing good money after bad, and get out of the Garminfone while it still can. Then it needs to bring its mobile software to other platforms beyond Blackberry, and quickly.