Garmin Nuvifone delayed, again

Chicago (IL) – Garmin president Chris Pemble shed a bit more uncertainty on the possible launch of the company’s first cellphone, the Nuvifone. Some shipments may be happening somewhere sooner or later in the second half this year, the company said during a recent conference call with analysts. To us, the Nuvifone now sounds like a pretty solid 2010 model.

Somehow, the Nuvifone story is getting a bit old. We have to admit that the device was, two years ago, among our favorite iPhone beater contenders, right next SonyEricsson’s Xperia X1. Our initial excitement has subsided, and both phones did not turn out to be what we would have hoped for. The X1 is way too expensive and the Nuvifone … well, we are still waiting for the Nuvifone.
A working device was shown in February of this year and we were told back then that Garmin was on track for a H1 introduction. Not so much anymore.  

At a recent conference call, Garmin was about as blurry as it could be when referring to the Nuvifone, but now says that it will ship in H2.  “We can report that we have made significant progress in the testing and certification of the devices in preparation for carrier and retail launches,” Pemble said. “We remain confident in the appeal of location centric devices for the smart phone market and are actively working on distribution and pressing arrangements.”

Analysts weren’t satisfied with the answered and pressed Garmin for more insight. Vivek Arya from Merrill Lynch was told that “smartphones are really complicated devices and bringing one to market that’s built totally from the ground up on a custom Linux platform is not an easy task.” And while Garmin has not “performed to [its] expectations”, the company said it believes it has a “very unique device” and still “a lot of interest in the device from carriers.”

And at this time, Garmin is “working hard right now to complete the certification”, which the company “believes” is “getting close to the end.”

There seem to be no carrier issues at this time, as Garmin conceded that “the carriers are definitely waiting for the device to be completed.” Pemble told Mark Sue from RBC Capital Markets that the company still hopes to ship the same number devices as initially stated this year. The revenue expectation is somewhere between $100 million and $200 million, which means that the shipment numbers of a $500 device would be in the range of 200,000 to 400,000 for the second half of the year.
An H1 introduction is now definitely out of the question. Pemble noted that Garmin is focusing on the second half of the year. “We would anticipate that some devices will hit the market in various locations throughout the second half, some earlier, some later.”
Some devices? Is it just us or does that sound like a not so definite launch? Looks to us like a 2010 launch for the Nuvifone.