Garmin-Asus' first Android smartphone due next year

The device will make generous use of GPS technology from Garmin

Garmin-Asus plans to launch its first smartphone based on Google's Android mobile operating system no later than the first quarter of next year, executives said Tuesday in Taipei.

The device could come a bit earlier, said Jacqueline Yang, associate vice president of marketing at Asustek, on the sidelines of a press conference in Taipei.

She declined to comment on how much the smartphone might cost.

Garmin-Asus is a smartphone-focused joint venture between GPS (global positioning system) device maker Garmin and PC vendor Asustek Computer (Asus).

Android, developed by Google, is a Linux-based operating system and software platform for smartphones.

The software works well with Google's online offerings, such as Gmail and Google Docs.

Garmin-Asus hope their location services make an Android smartphone even more compelling. Although it will pit Garmin GPS capabilities against Google Maps, there are different ways to use the two technologies, an Asustek representative said.

Garmin GPS technology will be used in the geotagging feature for photographs made using the handset, and will provide other location-based services, he said.

Garmin-Asus has already announced two smartphones, the Nuvifone G60, which sports a large 3.55-inch touchscreen and uses a Linux OS, and the Nuvifone M20, which has a 2.8-inch touchscreen and runs Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional.

Smartphone maker High Tech Computer (HTC) was first with an Android device, the T-Mobile G1 that debuted late last year.

The company has already launched two other Android smartphones.

Several other companies plan to launch Android smartphones this year, including Acer, Samsung Electronics and Huawei Technologies.

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