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Mitac to buy Navman handheld business

Where does that leave Mio?

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Mio parent Mitac has apparently acquired rival handheld GPS gadget maker Navman, but the deal will not necessarily boost the company's own GPS division.

The sale, announced last week but yet to be completed, will see Navman parent Brunswick rid itself of the Navman-branded handheld and in-car devices operation. Brunswick has already found a buyer for its Navman boat-mounted GPS business, but is still seeking a buyer for the Navman commercial road vehicle management division.

Brunswick, which owns a range of boats, bowling and billiards companies, acquired 70 per cent of Navman in 2003, picking up the remaining 30 per cent the following year.

The terms underpinning the Mitac acquisition were not disclosed, but the company does get its hands on the Navman brand. For now, the company said it plans to run Mio and Navman operations separately, though from next year both will use Mitac as their hardware manufacturer.

In Europe, for example, Mio has ten per cent of the GPS market, Navman eight per cent, giving Mitac a combined share of 18 per cent, putting it effectively in second place behind TomTom and ahead of Garmin. Mio and Navman both have strong brands, and ditching either risks losing overall marketshare.

Better, then, to push Mio as the mainstream brand, Navman as the more up-market operation and use both to feed revenue to the parent company by way of their hardware purchasing programmes.

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