I knew that Apple's iPhone would stir up some much needed innovation in the cellphone arena, but I'm surprised to see Garmin, a company usually known for GPS receivers, enter the phone market in such an aggressive way.
The Garmin nuvifone is a lot of things that the iPhone isn't - it's a GPS receiver, it's 3G, it can geo-tag photos, it offers MMS and instant messaging, it has an in-built video camera. But then again, unlike the iPhone, the nuvifone won't be out until Q3 and doesn't have the Apple logo on the case. These two points alone are a problem (and many would argue that the logo means more than availability).
What struck me about the nuvifone as soon as I saw it was the interface - it looked so familiar. Why? Because it's a similar interface to that on the TomTom. I can connect my TomTom 920 to my cellphone and control it when on the move using Bluetooth. It's not as elegant as an all-in-one device, but it sure beats messing about with Bluetooth headsets and voice-dialing when trying to keep your mind on the road. The interface of the nuvifone is remarkably similar - there's no way that the buttons and icons are going to be as fiddly as those that you see on the iPhone because a chunky interface is vital to being able to use the device while in your vehicle (I've spoken before as to how fiddly the iPod touch is to use). I've used a number of Garmin GPS receivers over the years and one thing that you can be guaranteed of is a rock-solid, zero mystery meat, and easy to use interface.
But what everyone wants to know is how the nuvifone will affect the iPhone. Well, I doubt that it's meant to compete directly with the iPhone. Garmin specialized in mobile technology, and increasingly, in-car technology, and the nuvifone looks like a natural evolution of this idea. People are already willing to pay big money for in-car GPS receivers so a receiver that combines a cellphone is logical. For people on the move a lot, the nuvifone has a number of advantages over the iPhone - two of these advantages being that it'll come with a decent vehicle mount and car cord.
There are still a lot of unknowns - price, battery life, carrier, whether it's a locked system or an open one ...
It's far too early to call the nuvifone and iPhone killer.