The newly independent company is aiming to win back the high ground in smartphones with fast new phones and a 10.1in tablet running Google's Android 3.0, aka 'Honeycomb'
From These Organizations:
Would you buy a Motorola Tablet over an iPad2 ? Keen to hear your views.
Motorola: they’re having a press conference! With earbleedingly loud music. Really, it is damn loud. Packed room. You can’t get in unless you’ve preregistered. Perhaps they’re worried the bazillions of press and bloggers will descend like locusts. Which would be a legitimate concern, from what I’ve seen the past couple of days.
16:21 It’s Bill Ogle, the chief marketing officer of Motorola Mobility. Hurrah. They rang the bell at the NYSE to celebrate being an independent company. He’s here to talk about the products to be announced today. “They are the first step in a long line of innovation from Motorola over the last 80 years.” That’s not a sentence that makes a lot of sense. Sure to improve from here, then.
Going to walk us through details of new products that have been leaking all over the net for the past few weeks. And now what’s going to differentiate Moto (which don’t forget has seen its share of the handset market plummet in the past year, losing out to Far Eastern companies)?
“We think we can make consumers’ lives simpler easier and more powerful for you.” Or, to use the tagline, “Life MPowered.” See what they did there? No? Big M for Motorola? Oh, suit yourselves.
And now chief exec officer Sanjay Jha, who having leapt into Android’s arms saw Google dump him in favour of Samsung and be left behind. So has Google come good for Moto?
16:24 Going to “leverage the ability of these businesses to deliver converged opportunities”. That’s good, we never like converged opportunities to go undelivered.
16:25 “First a smartphone that I think will change forever how we stay connected.” Tagged as “the world’s most powerful smartphone. Atrix 4G. Dual-core processor, 1GHz each, 1930maH battery, 1GB RAM, “qHD display”, fingerprint reader. “But even with these it still doesn’t meet all the needs I have when I come to a business trip. Business people can get through 80% of the day using their smartphone but there are still tasks that need a larger screen and a keyboard and mouse, such as documents, watching HD video” – huh? You need a keyboard to watch HD video? Oh, needs a larger screen. So that’s an essential part of the business person’s work? Watching HD video? If you say so.
16:28 Seang Chau, chief software engineer at Motorola, is up. Three different people in seven minutes. Motorola Webtap application is a browser-based desktop, “it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before…. unprecedented integration between smartphone and computer environment.”
He’s got the phone sideways in an HD dock. 3 USB ports, HFMI out. OK, it’s an entertainment centre. This is the missing 20% that business people don’t get done? I didn’t know that. You can output your phone’s content to a computer screen or a big screen. Hmm.
Runs Android. Has Firefox 3.6.13 running on the phone – it’s a full desktop browser, not a mobile browser. I’m thinking: insane. I’m also thinking: it’s quite a thing to have got a real Firefox running on Android. And: it’s a computer that you use to make phone calls? Um, OK. So as long as the business person checks into a hotel that offers spare screens and keyboards, they’re fine. Or if they carry the screen and keyboard in their suitcase.. OK.
16:32 Goes to a web page; phone numbers are highlighted and become hotlinks that you can call. Intriguing – wonder if that’s something Motorola has tweaked in its Android for that. Could be problems ahead if it has, because that would mean that upgrades to Android might break it.
“We sat down with some CIOs and they said this was a very good solution because they only have to manage and upgrade a single device.” Also has a laptop dock, essentially a shell of a laptop that you plug the phone as a processor into. Now, that I can see the business people wanting for their 20%.
This is the sort of thing that would be giving Microsoft the heebie-jeebies. It’s a sort of tablet that’s a laptop that’s a phone. What need then for a Windows laptop?
Jha is claiming 8 hours battery life. But can it edit Office documents? Or would you have to go via Google Docs? Remains to be seen, possibly after the presentation – Motorola says it’s going to be offering hands-on.
16:35 Jeff Bradly, svp devices for AT&T mobility and consumer markets. This is going to be exclusive to AT&T (for now?). Will have more than 20 4G devices by the end of the year. “I’ve seen a lot of smartphones in my career” – in Cupertino they’re saying “watch what you next say next” – “and I have to say this is awesome.” That was clever, not saying it was the best or anything.
“Preparing our stores and our enterprise channels to sell these smartphones and innovative docking solutions.” No prices yet “but they will be competitive”. How surprising if you thought he was going to say prices will be “ridiculous” or “gouge the hell out of you”.
Ah, Orange is also going to be selling it in the UK. Phil Robertson of Orange gets to say something. “To have a device that can both operate in the home enviroment and the out-of-home environment is very powerful.”
Now on to the second of the four devices for today. November 2009 had the Cliq with T-Mobile, “learnt a lot”. (Usually business speak for “it went really badly”, but he doesn’t elucidate.)
Now: Cliq 2. 4G, 1GHz, slide-out keyboard on the side, customizable profiles (er, so?), 3.7″ screen. Adobe Flash 10.1 player. 4MP camera. “Print to retail”, no clue what that may be. Hotspot capability, Wi-Fi calling. On T-Mobile. No details on what OS it is – Moto’s own? Advert seems to suggest it’s Android too.
16:43 Third product. “Speed is critical to consumers.. no waiting for pages to refresh. 4G technology makes that possible. Introducing the Droid Bionic.”
It’s a Google-y phone, looks very like the Nexus S (from Samsung). Except that the buttons for controlling it are in a different order along the bottom – one thing that Google hasn’t got right but which Windows Phone 7 (which dictates the order of the buttons at the base of the handset) has.
Comes with video calling, encryption, Quick Office, video conferencing. Intriguing that Quick Office wasn’t mentioned on the Atrix.
Time for the fourth gadget.
16:46 It’s a tablet – “I’m pleased to announce the Motorola Xoom, the world’s first Honeycomb tablet, which will be available in stores in the first quarter.”
Hang on, I thought that Asus said it had a Honeycomb device at its launch yesterday. That’s going to be interesting. Who will be first into the stores?
5MP camera. 3F upgradeable to 4G. Dual core processor. , 12:10 display. , looks like a 10-inch screen. Adobe Flash Player 10.1.” First Android tablet with software designed for a tablet, 2x 1GHz processors. All 3G devices can be upgraded to 4G. Accelerometer, gyroscope, front and back cameras, Honeycomb demo – “the software’s not completely done, so we can’t let you play with it today.”
Honeycomb: not much special to report. Mail client looks very like the one in the iPad. Basically, it uses the ideas from having a large screen and implements them; looks good. “Designed ground up for a tablet…. builds upon Android technology already available.. widgets… because of the larger screen area there’s more functionality…”
Shows off the Maps app. It’s… well, OK, it’s like when you show off Google Maps on a large screen. (Distinct lack of “ooh” from the crowd.)
So: 3G version in the first quarter, 4G version in the second quarter.
And that’s a wrap. So: Motorola’s trying to get ahead of the rest by
• offering a really powerful phone in the Atrix: could be good, though it does need all the extras to be really usefui. Are business people, and businesses, going to abandon all their investments in laptops to go for an Atrix instead? Especially as we haven’t seen whether it can edit Office files. It’s a terrific idea, but something inside is nagging away and thinking it will hit a lot of inertia.
• Cliq 2. Low-end phone, not really a premier product, filling in to capture the low end.
• Droid Bionic. For the people who can’t bear to abandon their laptops for the Atrix but do want something that will do pretty much all the same stuff, and act as a Wi-Fi hotspot (which Android does). Suspect this is actually going to be the better seller compared to the Atrix, wonderful though the latter’s concept might be.
• a 10.1-inch tablet with Honeycomb (Android 3.0) scheduled to reach stores some time in the next three months. It looks really nice; the key will be in the pricing. Can Motorola order in sufficient volumes to push the price below the iPad 2 (as it will be competing with then)? And will the Android Marketplace be a sufficiently compelling alternative in terms of apps? It’s got Angry Birds, so that might swing it.. but price will be the key here. There are going to be plenty of Honeycomb tablets within a few months of Motorola’s hitting the shops, so it’s going to have to rely on price or timing to get a lead.
Overall? 7/10 – interesting ideas, and now the challenge lies in the execution.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010