One of the most popular sellers of navigation and smartphone GPS software is buying one of its strongest competitors. Garmin has announced today it has signed an agreement with Navigon AG to acquire the privately held company.
"This acquisition is a great complement to Garmin's existing automotive and mobile business. Navigon has invested significantly in the European automotive OEM business, and we feel that we can rapidly expand our automotive OEM footprint and capabilities through this transaction," said Cliff Pemble, Garmin's president and COO. "With Navigon, we are also acquiring one of the top-selling navigation applications for the iPhone and Android platforms – something that we expect will help drive revenue for the combined company going forward. Combining Navigon's and Garmin's strength also improves our competitiveness and standing particularly in Europe."
The deal will require regulatory approval. Garmin is headquartered in Switzerland, with a large US presence. Navigon is based in Germany.
It will be interesting to see how the two companies combine, especially for fans of the Garmin and Navigon apps. The Garmin StreetPilot app requires over the air downloads for maps as you travel. The Navigon family of apps have all maps self-contained, but the software uses a data connection for destination related Google searches and weather. It isn't known yet if the Navigon name will vanish, or be retained.
The Garmin iPhone app has not been as well rated as the Navigon apps. In my own tests the Garmin app didn't do well in areas of poor 3G coverage, unless the maps were pre-cached. If the deal goes through, Garmin will have bought a strong competitor, and hopefully, better products will result.