Garmin is a Swiss company that develops consumer, aviation, and marine technologies for the Global Positioning System (GPS). It was founded in 1989 by Gerry Burrell and Min Kao in Lenexa, Kansas as ProNav, and in 2010 was incorporated in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, as the headquarters and successor to Garmin Cayman, which until then, had served as a holding company for Garmin corporation. Though their claim to fame came from their pioneering of marine and handheld GPS' for the US Army, they have since expanded into the commercial market focusing on the design, manufacturing, and marketing of a diverse family of hand-held, portable, and fixed navigation and communications products.
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For market reach, Garmin has its primary company-owned distribution centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Taiwan.
Within the automotive/mobile sector, Garmin provides Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) as well as mobile applications which are offered across a broad range of smart phones and tablets including iOS, Android and Windows-enabled devices. In its OEM partnerships, it delivers in-car technologies and intuitive interfaces customized to manufacturers' demands. Some of its most important relationships in this sector include Chrysler, Suzuki, BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Volkswagen. Due to these close strategic alliances, it is rare for other companies to compete in terms of marketing and sales.
In its contribution to the outdoor market, it provides handheld and wrist-worn devices popular in camping, hiking, and golf; pet tracking and training devices; and action cameras. Garmin is also a leader in providing several products designed for use in the recreational marine industry which use GPS-enabled sonar depth finders for recreational boating and fishing. In the aviation industry Garmin's product line includes GPS-enabled navigation, automatic flight control systems, and traffic collision avoidance systems, to name a few, many of which are collaborations with its OEM partnerships.
In efforts to remain innovative and up-to-date with recent consumer trends, as well as to counteract losses in their Personal Navigation Device (PND) sector, Garmin is developing products designed to address growing fitness and wellness concerns. The fitness segment offers training assistants for athletes; personal training systems and pedal-based power meters designed for cyclists; watches designed for swimming pool use; and wellness devices, among others. A recent release from Garmin, and one which has received significant media buzz is Garmin Connect. Used in tandem with their vivofit and vivoki bands, this Web-based analytic tool can be used to store, analyze, and share fitness and wellness data received by personalized tracking information recorded in the bands.
Garmin became a publically traded company in 2000, and it experienced formidable growth in NASDAQ all the way up until 2007, by which point it had doubled its sales in the insatiable consumer demand for its location-finding gadgets. However, with the introduction and proliferation of the Smartphone in the late 2000s, the industry for Personal Navigation Devices has greatly suffered. Smartphones have been described as the Swiss Army knives of consumer electronics, taking over the tasks once reserved for specialized hardware like cameras and GPS systems. In addition to Smartphone apps, as more cars are built with machine to machine (M2M) computer systems, they also include personal navigational systems. Findings from Berg Insight show that in 2012 global shipments of PNDs declined. Units shipped dropped from 33 million to 28 million, representing just slightly less...