Nokia Buys Navteq: Where Does That Leave Garmin?

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Includes: GRMN, NOK, NVT
by: Herb Greenberg

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece that questioned whether the stealth-like growth of the GPS navigation capabilities of cell phones would become competition for the likes of Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN). With yesterday's announcement that Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is buying Navteq (NVT), the biggest supplier of map data, it would appear the growth is likely to become less stealth while confirming cell phones as viable competition to traditional (and fast-growing) portable navigation devices.

But here's the rub: Last quarter, Garmin was one of two 10% customers of Navteq; the other was BMW. If Nokia, through its phones, becomes a competitor to Garmin, does Garmin shift to a Navteq competitor (not good for Nokia) or does Garmin team up with Nokia/Navteq to somehow capitalize on the cell phone/navigation phenomenon?

(Not sure what it would actually bring to the party unless it somehow co-branded a device with Nokia.)

Whatever evolves, this much is clear: Navigation on cell phones would appear poised to pounce.