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Much ado has been made of Apple's [NASDAQ:AAPL] iPhone 3G as a smartphone with GPS, but what ever became of that GPS device that was to include a smartphone? I'm talking about Garmin's [NASDAQ:GRMN] slick-looking Nuvifone, which was supposed to be imminent when rumors of its existence started a-swirling last year. Unforunately the device seems to be hitting roadblocks in development: a statement from Garmin says that "meeting some of the carrier specific requirements will take longer than anticipated." The Nuvifone was originally supposed to make its grand appearance in Q4 of this year, but now Garmin says that arrival will be delayed to mid-year 2009.

When Garmin first released details about its first phone, initial reactions were tremendously enthusiastic. The operating system on Garmin's existing devices is nothing short of terrific, and while none of those devices yet include the ability to make calls or get email and Internet, they do juggle a remarkable array of features like Bluetooth calling, MP3 playback, and of course, finding driving directions and points of interest. For a stretch, it seemed like Apple finally had a real contender that could challenge its user-friendliness and feature-set, but unfortunately, Garmin's window of opportunity may be closing. The smartphone market is far from mature, but they'll have to do something downright next-generation if they play to enter the game as late as they do.