Garmin made an announcement regarding Mac support on January 10, 2006. In this announcement, Garmin states; "By the end of 2006, Garmin intends to have made all its popular hardware and software applications Mac OS X compatible.".
On June 27, 2006, another press release says; "The companys Training Center software is now expected to be compatible with Mac OS X version 10.4 "Tiger by the end of 2006. Also at that time, we will announce the expected completion date for Garmins other hardware and software applications.". They did release an OS X version of the Training Center software on December 29, 2006 but with no further mention of Mac OS X support beyond this.
There is a beta version of their 'WebUpdater for Mac' available but the download page for this says; "WebUpdater for Mac is not compatible with Palm, Pocket PC, serial, fixed-mount marine, chartplotters, fishfinders and discontinued devices.". That covers the vast majority of Garmin's product line and so begs the question as to what the WebUpdater for Mac is compatible with. This application is supposed to be used to update the firmware in Garmin GPS units which is the most important thing for most of their customers.
Garmin used to release GPS firmware updates as a Windows executable file. Mac users could update their GPS firmware using a USB to serial adapter with Windows running under VirtualPC. Garmin then suddenly stopped releasing these updates as Windows executables and instead packaged them in a format that required you to buy their proprietary USB Card Programmer and memory card. The Windows driver for this USB Card Programmer did not work under VirtualPC evidently because they had not conformed to the USB specification and had implemented some non-standard way of using USB. At this point, Mac users were stuck with no way to update their GPS firmware at all.
Fundamentally, I think that Garmin as a company has some serious issues. I've never been to Olathe, Kansas but I would venture to guess that competent Mac OS X programmers are a little hard to find there. In addition, if you look at the release notes for the GPS updates and start comparing them, you'll find a lot of basic programming errors that are being corrected. This brings into question the methods that Garmin uses to develop their software and also how thoroughly any of it is being tested before release. Lastly, look at their list of current job openings. There are a lot of them.
Basically, I wouldn't count on Garmin putting out any good Mac OS X software in the foreseeable future. They have the largest share of the GPS market but then again, Windows has the largest share of the computer market. As Mac users, we know that having the largest market share has nothing to do with a product's quality.
There is some good news in all of this and that is that the Garmin USB Card Programmer driver does work with Windows running under Parallels. This is not due to any effort on Garmin's part. Credit for this goes to the Parallels developers and the Parallels Desktop for Mac application.
Last edited: May 21, 2007