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Garmin Ltd.

legal form Corporation
ISIN CH0114405324
founding October 1989
Seat Schaffhausen , SwitzerlandSwitzerlandSwitzerland 
management Clifton Pemble
( CEO )
Min H. Kao
( Chairman of the Board )
Number of employees 12,300 (December 30, 2017)
sales 3,087,000,000 US dollars (2017)
Branch navigation

Garmin Ltd. is a Swiss- American manufacturer of navigation receivers for satellite-based position determination and navigation, based in Schaffhausen and operating headquarters in Olathe , Kansas . Founded in 1989 by Gar y Burrell and Min Kao (hence the name Garmin), the company soon became known for the miniaturization of its GPS receivers. Garmin now manufactures navigation products for the areas of road navigation , fitness / sport, outdoor / nature sport , marine and air navigation . The company's shares are listed on the NASDAQ listed and in stock index S & P 500 included.


The management is based in Kansas and Taiwan . The company headquarters were relocated to low-tax countries several times. First the headquarters moved to Taiwan , 2000 to the Cayman Islands and 2010 to Schaffhausen . The last move was like a mailbox company with only five employees and no managerial staff. Meanwhile, however, the secretariat, the Executive Vice President and the legal department of the group are located in Schaffhausen.

A central strategy of Garmin is vertical integration. The company is divided into five largely independent divisions: Automotive, Aviation, Maritime, Outdoor, and Fitness. The devices are traditionally developed and produced in our own production facilities, three of which for consumer electronics products are located in Taiwan. Garmin produces its own avionics products in Olathe. Around 1000 engineers work in the areas of product development, production, quality assurance, cartography and language development. Garmin's fiscal 2013 revenue was just over $ 2.63 billion.

Garmin Deutschland GmbH, based in Garching near Munich, is a member of the Garmin Ltd. group.

Garmin's European office is located in Southampton , UK . Garmin Ltd. has been building since 2007 their presence on the European market: In January 2007 Garmin bought the French distributor; in July 2007 also the German distributor, GPS GmbH . This has been operating as Garmin Deutschland GmbH since the takeover. The new company initially kept its location and management in Graefelfing . The German Garmin representative has been located in Garching near Munich since September 2011 and today has more than 100 employees. In addition, Würzburg has its own research and development site. In Europe, Garmin has offices in Southampton, Munich, Paris, Barcelona, ​​Milan, Lisbon, Graz, Brussels, Lohja and Copenhagen. In all other countries, exclusive general agencies are responsible for sales, marketing, service and support on site.


Basic device eTrex

While early devices such as the GPS 100 - as with other manufacturers - only provided position data without direct map reference, the GPS 75 was soon followed by the first receiver that could show a waypoint map on the display from the user's own measurements . It could also be displayed in different scales .

Location databases soon followed, as with the 12XL model with a newer software version, which made it easier to classify one's own position in the wider environment. The Navigate with such devices without the help of digitized maps is relatively complex and requires additional conventional paper maps and extensive knowledge of the matter. However, even without map material, the backtracking function, for example, can be useful, with the help of which one can display the reverse route to the starting point for a previously covered route . In the meantime, you can also find high-resolution color screens on many handheld devices that show your position on a map. The associated higher energy requirements of the displays and processors, however, lead to shorter battery runtimes in newer handheld devices.

Initially, the company concentrated almost exclusively on the production of robust devices for sea and aviation and, to a lesser extent, also for the "outdoor" area. Although the know-how and the technology for street navigation were also available in principle (e.g. “GPSmap V”), the potential of mobile devices for vehicle route guidance was recognized very late, so that new competitors quickly set foot in this emerging mass market could grasp. Garmin now also offers a very large range of models here. A simplified mechanical structure, the significantly larger quantities and the increased competitive pressure have led to significantly lower prices for this device class.

During the Second Gulf War , the Allies were equipped with handheld devices from Garmin.

In September 2003, Garmin launched the iQue 3600 with Palm OS 5 and GPS .

On July 26, 2011, Garmin took over the German manufacturer of navigation devices Navigon . The former place of activity of Navigon in Würzburg has since acted as Garmin's European research and development center.

Many devices can be connected to a computer via Bluetooth or USB . The data such as B. recorded routes and waypoints can be displayed and evaluated.

On July 23, 2020, Garmin reported a complete failure of its online systems, affecting smartwatch apps, website, customer service and pilot software. According to Forbes magazine , a Taiwanese news site has suggested that the reason for the total failure at Garmin was a hacker attack via ransomware .


Various Garmin devices for aviation

Garmin produces devices for outdoor and street navigation, for pedestrian and air navigation, devices for ship navigation and cycling computers.

In addition to the usual GPS devices for street navigation and sporting activities, Garmin offers outdoor sports products for hiking and geocaching as well as wearables such as fitness wristbands and action camcorders . In addition, there is equipment for ships - also combined with echo sounders  - and for aviation , including an integrated electronic flight instrument system . With the products for aviation, there is an option to support an airport database. For industrial users, Garmin sells OEM boards that can be built into products such as car radios with navigation functions. Differential GPS signals can be evaluated with ballasts manufactured by Garmin.

ecoRoute is software developed by Garmin that is designed to help car and truck drivers drive as economically and efficiently as possible. The software influences the routing by calculating the route, which should lead to a driving style that is as fuel-efficient as possible.

ecoRoute HD, consisting of software and hardware, is the further development of ecoRoute and can determine actual vehicle values. The ecoRoute HD module is connected to the vehicle's standard port for on-board diagnostics (OBD II). The module receives the data from the vehicle in real time. In addition to these vehicle values, ecoRoute HD is able to read Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC), which can normally only be called up in the workshop. All vehicle values ​​are transferred to the navigation device via Bluetooth . With the help of ecoRoute HD, the pilot becomes an on-board diagnostic computer.


Garmin Oregon 550 with OpenStreetMap map
Garmin 60CSx with topographic map

Outdoor hand-held devices capable of displaying maps are usually supplied with a so-called base map, which contains important locations and major highways worldwide with limited accuracy. These map data are only sufficient for a very rough overview, but not yet for precise navigation. With appropriate optional memory cards or earlier CDs or DVDs (and using a PC), however, more precise, regional maps (or map sections) can be reloaded (map size depending on the memory configuration). Suitable data for street navigation with house numbers has been available for most industrialized countries since the late 1990s and now also for some emerging countries . For more and more countries there is also topographic map material with detailed terrain features such as B. forest, water, contour lines and hiking trails (partly also from third-party providers). However, because they were created by different authors, these maps are of different quality; Resolution and level of detail. Such z. B. from Germany, Switzerland (based on the national map of Switzerland ), Austria, France, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, USA, Canada and some other countries.

Despite the proprietary file format of the maps, there has been a growing community for a long time that uses third-party software to bring maps they have created themselves to Garmin devices and, in some cases, to distribute them on the Internet. As a result of this development, it is now possible, in addition to commercial maps, to download freely available maps adapted for Garmin devices from the OpenStreetMap project, among others . With regard to streets, paths, buildings and POIs , depending on the area, these are sometimes even more complete or more up-to-date than the maps sold by Garmin.

In addition to the previous vector maps, raster maps and aerial photos of limited scope can also be displayed on newer Garmin devices. These are known as Garmin Custom Maps and must be created in KMZ format . The creation of user-defined JNX maps ( BirdsEye ) is possible in a roundabout way .

Thanks to a routing function , many Garmin handheld devices for "outdoor" use also enable route guidance away from the highways.

In addition, special nautical charts (so-called BlueCharts) are available for many marine areas worldwide and also for some inland waters .

Most devices are shipped with a global base map. Older devices only included maps for one region, for the American market this was a map of North and South America, for the European market the so-called Atlantic base map (Europe, North Africa, Middle East) was distributed and one for devices for the Asian market Map that covered large parts of Asia and Australia.

Some older devices purchased in the USA were delivered without menu navigation in German (GPSMAP 60 / 76C (S) x). These could be changed to the desired language in the menu navigation by exchanging the basic map for the European one or with the garpatch software . The PC software supplied as standard with these devices (for data management of the waypoints recorded with the device) Trip and Waypoint Manager also covered the entire globe for the import devices , but in a low resolution. Special maps had to be purchased for higher resolutions and more map details.

The topographic maps are mainly created by Navitracks.


Since June 18, 2008, Garmin has sponsored the former professional cycling team "Slipstream-Chipotle" and initially continued it under the new name "Team Garmin-Slipstream". In the meantime it was called “Team Garmin-Transitions ”. The sponsoring partner was the US spectacle lens manufacturer Transitions Optical . In 2011, the team was merged with the Cervélo TestTeam and has since been called Team Garmin-Cervélo, later Garmin-Barracuda and most recently in 2015 Cannondale-Garmin , at the end of the year Garmin withdrew from sponsoring the team.

Web links

Commons : Garmin  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Annual Report 2017 accessed on May 3, 2018.
  2. US company Garmin moves to Schaffhausen.
  3. a b
  4. Lee Mathews: Garmin Suffers Global Outage And Ransomware May Be To Blame. Retrieved July 26, 2020 (English).
  5. Garmin Maps on
  6. Garmin Custom Maps (pdf)
  7. JNX Raster Maps on