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Garmin Plays It Cool

By Rich Smith - Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 7:54PM

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And is there anything cooler than Google?

The week opened with a brouhaha in Tech-land yesterday as e-journalist Digitimes broke what appeared to be not one, but two major stories in praise of Garmin (NYSE:GRMN) -- then promptly was rebutted by Garmin itself. Here's how the news read, in he-said, she-said format:

Digitimes: After superb Black Friday GPS sales, "Garmin ... estimates that its 2008 total sales volume of GPS PNDs will increase by 50% from 2007 to 18 million units."

Garmin: Um, no. That is to say, "Black Friday sales ... were what we expected and gross margins remain relatively strong. ... However, the December sales environment is weaker, which we attribute to our retail customers' desire to exit the year with lower levels of inventory."

Digitimes: "In the Taiwan market, Garmin had a market share of 25% to 30% ... in the first half of 2008, but the gap [between Garmin and the leader in Taiwanese market share] shrank considerably in the second half."

Garmin: "As is customary, Garmin will update investors during its fourth quarter 2008 earnings call, scheduled for February 25, 2009."

Overall, Garmin laments the "number of inaccuracies in both sales figures and product rollout schedules" contained in Digitimes' story. One thing that Garmin didn't address in its press release, however, is Digitimes' assertion that: "In addition to GPS PNDs, Garmin will launch Nuvifone, its first GPS-enabled handset, in the Taiwan market in the second quarter of 2009 ... Garmin also plans to launch self-developed Android handsets in the second half of 2009, with production to be outsourced."

Garmin appears to have confirmed this point at least, by the circuitous route of a PR communique released to Information Week Monday morning: "We do have an Android-based phone under development."

Foolish takeaway
What's a Fool to make of all this he-said, she-said business? Seems to me we can draw a few conclusions: First, Garmin wants to keep expectations low for the all-important holiday season -- which seems wise in light of how things have gone for Garmin lately. Second, Garmin may be warning of a return to its "inventory issues" of quarters past. If retailers are working down their own inventories, chances are they haven't been draining Garmin's warehouses much.

And another thing ...
And the last point: Garmin is taking its place alongside Samsung and Motorola (NYSE:MOT) in bringing Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) fabled Android operating system online. Can this cavalcade of also-rans break the smartphone triumvirate that is Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM)?

Maybe, maybe not. But I've got a better question.

We've been waiting more than a year to see if Google's got what it takes in the smartphone market. Is teaming with Garmin, author of the oft-delayed nuvifone, really going to get things moving?

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Nokia. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Garmin is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Nokia is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick.  Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

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