A hundred bucks turns a BlackBerry into a Garmin navigator

Garmin announced a new lifetime offer to Research in Motion BlackBerry smartphone owners: its complete turn-by-turn, voice direction service for a one-time fee of $99.99, for the life of their BlackBerrys.

The deal will also give BlackBerry owners access to traffic updates, weather information, and local fuel prices. The turn-by-turn directions take into account accidents, traffic congestions, road closures, and other incidents. With a catalog of millions of point of interest (POIs), users can identify a nearby destination and receive custom directions to that specific location.

All data is stored on Garmin's servers as opposed to the device itself, so directions are up-to-date.

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Most companies, Garmin included, typically offer a charge for mobile directions and similar phone-based services per day or month. In this case, the one-time purchase can be made directly through Garmin's Web site. The one-time fee will put pressure on competing services from AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and others.

AT&T's Navigator and Verizon's VZ Navigator offer turn-by-turn directions for mobile phone owners, in addition to maps, food and business lookups, and more. Both Navigator and VZ Navigator cost users $9.99 per month or $2.99 per day.

One critical feature many BlackBerrys lack is embedded GPS. For those without it, Garmin is suggesting they can be paired with a Garmin Mobile GPS 10x device, which borrows the BlackBerry's Bluetooth connection, and which is sold by some online retailers for -- ironically -- $99.99. Some stand-alone Garmin in-car GPS navigation systems sell for under $200.

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