Thursday, February 23, 2006

Garmin's Record Earnings, but still no new Forerunner yet...for me

I wish I was writing about how I finally had a new Garmin Forerunner 205 or 305 GPS running watch to play with, but I don't. After deliberating for too long, I decided the $249 Forerunner 205 was enough mobile wrist device for me since I probably wouldn't use the 305's heart rate monitoring function too often.

But while I dilly-dallied over the decison-making process, limited quantities of the Forerunner 205 started showing up in the wild this week. I finally placed an order online over the past weekend, but it's now on backorder until maybe next week. Doh! The waiting always kills me since once I make a decision to replace a gadget, I want to get it done with right away. I guess I'll have to stick with my trusty Garmin Forerunner 201 just a little bit longer.

In the interim, The Consumer Electronics Stock Blog has a transcript of Garmin's Q4 2005 Earnings Conference Call with financial analysts. It was another record year for Garmin and the results of their "portable navigation devices was especially strong, resulting in a triple digit increase in the sale of automotive product line. Over 3 million Garmin products was shipped in 2005 raising our total to 14 million units shipped to date."

Aviation and automotive were big markets for Garmin and at the consumer level, in addition to new fitness products (i.e. the Forerunner 205 and 305 for running and the Edge 205 and 305 for cyclists) portable GPS mapping devices have a lot of potential. Garmin's VP of Engineering said:

We announced an updated hand held product line called our X series. This new product line features a removable memory card which enables the user to expand the memory available for mapping. To complement this product line, we created a comprehensive set of preprogrammed maps for our customers which allow them to easily mapping content to the product without complication of using a computer. We offer pre-programmed cards with helpful information, detailed inland (inaudible) data, and also our blue chart marine data. The GPS Map 60 CX line and the GPS Map 76 CX line also feature a high sensitivity SiRF star 3 receiver which will expand the utility products for our customers.
The X series have microSD card slots and what makes this very interesting to me is the potential of Garmin's entry into the mobile content market. I'm guessing there is the possibility of selling the pre-recorded mapping content on microSD cards to users of non-Garmin devices/handsets as long as it had a microSD slot, a GPS chip and the required software. Am I missing something? Lots of possibilities with this model...