Garmin acquires GPS rival Navigon

Garmin/Navigon (auto navigation Europe)

GPS maker Garmin has announced it is acquiring rival firm Navigon. Although the consumer market for GPS systems continues to face serious challenges from smartphones and other connected devices, Garmin’s interest in Navigon seems to be mainly for in-vehicle systems, particularly in the European market where Navigon has invested heavily and built relationships with a number of vehicle manufacturers. Under the deal, Navigon will become a Garmin subsidiary.

Turns of the acquisition were not announced, but industry estimates have placed the deal in the €50 million (US$71 million) range.

“We look forward to sharing expertise, technologies, and relationships between Navigon and Garmin in order to serve more customers, expand product offerings, and lead the market in hardware and software innovation,” said Navigon CEO Egon Minar, in a statement “Our two companies each bring complementary strengths to the table, but what we share is a passion for customer satisfaction through innovation.”

Navigon currently has about seven percent of the European market for portable navigation devices; reports have had the company interested in a sale for several years, but the global economic downturn seemed to hamper the idea. The company had recently been working to streamline its operations, outsourcing some development to Romania and streamlining its R&D efforts.

Smartphone users may also be familiar with the company’s widely-used MobileNavigator apps for iOS and Android—Navigon has been in the smartphone app business for some time, while Garmin only just launched its first mapping app for the iPhone earlier this year. Garmin’s first bet in the smartphone market was a partnership with Asus to develop smartphones with enhanced GPS capabilities; the companies backed out of the partnership last October, with Garmin saying it was planning to focus on app development going forward.

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