Asustek, Garmin Ending Joint Smartphone Development

Asustek and Garmin have made their last Garmin-Asus smartphone, the two companies announced. Asus will instead offer its own phones, and Garmin will develop apps.

Add Asustek to list of PC makers-now including Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard-that are also stamping their names on smartphones.

On Oct. 26, U.S.-based navigation company Garmin and Taiwan-based Asustek, best known for its Eee PC mininotebooks, announced that they'll no longer create co-branded Garmin-Asus mobile handsets together. Going forward, Asustek, under the Asus brand, will instead introduce its own line of mobile phones, some of which will come preloaded with Garmin navigation software.

In a joint statement, the two emphasized that they will continue to sell and support their six existing handsets, including the Android-running A50, the Windows Mobile-running M10 and the n??vifone M20 and G60, which were introduced at the Mobile World Congress in February. Additionally, Garmin will expand its line of mobile handsets and offer navigation and, likely, location-based applications through "certain consumer application stores," it said in the statement.

Rival TomTom currently offers an application for the iPhone through the Apple App Store.

"We are moving from co-brand to brand cooperation, and we will use Garmin's solutions in our new Android phones exclusively for a couple of years," said Benson Lin, general manager of Asustek's personal mobile devices business, according to Reuters. Garmin "will be a very close partner," Lin added, declining to share shipment forecasts for the firm's planned smartphones for 2011.

Garmin will consider the performance of its smartphone unit over the next few quarters before deciding whether to continue it, Reuters reported, following a September interview. It's thought that a move to end its smartphone line could actually help to boost its bottom line.

Asus and Garmin will report their third-quarter earnings on Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, respectively. During their earnings calls, each plans to offer more information about their individual future product road maps.

The navigation market took a hit early this year when Nokia, the leading global phone maker, announced that it will begin offering a free version of Ovi Maps, for free walking and driving navigation, on all its GPS-enabled smartphones. Additionally, phones running the Android operating system have free access to Google Maps, a Web-based GPS solution. The Apple App Store offers nearly 200 mapping applications, and Microsoft has also gotten in on the action, with Bing Maps.