MOTONOW 2005 on location report

Jul 26 2005 - 04:47 PM ET | Motorola
By Jon Gales -- At a Motorola hosted media event in Chicago Monday evening, Motorola announced several new phone models that will define the next generation of phones from the largest handset manufacturer in the US market. The new models, including a highly anticipated model that will compete with the Treo and BlackBerry: * Moto Q * A910 * Expanded selection of RAZR models Along with dozens of mainstream journalists, MobileTracker was in attendance and got a chance to play with all of the new models. Read on for our exclusive take on the new handsets as well as plenty of photos. Click on each photo to zoom.


The RAZR was central to the event, with Motorola's CEO Ed Zander spending much of his opening remarks talking about the device. Motorola will be expanding the RAZR brand to several network standards, including UTMS and CDMA with EV-DO. A UTMS equipped RAZR was being shown off: it's slightly thicker than the GSM version, but it's still quite thin overall. As BusinessWeek first noted, the RAZR will begin shipping in several colors. Zander showed off a bright pink version that has been a hit with women at the event. Ron Garriques, President of the Mobile Devices business, noted that the next platform (beyond RAZR) will launch in 2006. The RAZR platform took about four years of development and has led to about 5 million total unit sales. Also under the RAZR brand is the RAZRWire which is a combined effort from Motorola and Oakley. It will begin selling towards the end of the quarter.

Moto Q

Motorola's biggest announcement at the MOTONOW event was most definitely the "Moto Q". The device houses a QWERTY keyboard (which is where the Q comes from) and looks similar to the Treo 650. The Q works with Windows Mobile 5.0 but, since existing push-email solutions are not yet available for the OS, there was no working demo of that functionality. The Moto Q has many design features of the RAZR family despite not technically being a part of the brand. It's less than half an inch thick which makes the device much more "pocketable" than a BlackBerry or Treo. The full feature list hasn't been released, but it includes at least the following: * Windows Mobile 5.0 * 1.2 megapixel camera with flash * MiniSD card slot * QVGA 65K color screen (not a touch screen) According to Ron Garriques the Q will support advanced data technology like EV-DO, UMTS and WiMax (obviously in different versions) but he offered no more details. As noted above, the Moto Q is scheduled to start shipping in the first quarter of 2006. It's still far enough out from launching that design changes will most likely occur (Garriques noted that the RAZR was fairly unpolished at the same point in its development schedule).


The Motorola A910 is a Linux OS powered clamshell that is pretty routine besides the inclusion of WiFi. Representatives with the company said a global launch is planned so this handset could make it to the US. Because of VoIP features it's unlikely that a US carrier would like to pick it up, but it is at least possible. * WiFi * QVGA screen * UMA technology allowing seamless access to GSM and GPRS features over WLAN * Bluetooth Unrelated to any specific handset, Motorola made it clear that Linux+Java is the future for its OS solution. This is evidenced by phones like the A910. Prior to the A910, Motorola limited its Linux+Java software to high-tier handsets. The A910 could be the first Linux powered phone to make a US launch.


ROKR (pronounced Rocker) is the moniker given to Motorola's upcoming line of fashionable music phones. While one ROKR model was shown on the stage before and during Ed Zander's opening address Monday night, not much was mentioned about the ROKR. A Motorola staffer removed the demo model immediately after the address so no one got a chance to use the unit or even photograph it from up close. It was a working model though as the intro music for the presentation was actually being played from it. Motorola has said that the ROKR that was on stage did not have iTunes on it, however it did have a rather large scroll wheel that was reminiscent of the iPod. There will be a family of ROKR phones but it was not announced which model this was, presumedly there is another ROKR model that will include iTunes. Also noted was that the first music device that will support over-the-air (OTA) download will be UTMS. We expect more information on the ROKR family will be released later in Q3


The Motorola PEBL (pronounced pebble) is being billed as the next generation consumer level handset from Motorola. Several working models of the PEBL were out for display and the handset feels very solid. It will ship in an array of colors (see photo) and should be priced for the consumer market. The auto-open mechanism is very smooth, but the handset can also be opened in a more traditional manner. Look for the PEBL starting in the third quarter.


The Motorola SLVR (pronounced Sliver) line is a candy bar handset styled like the RAZR. It comes in three versions: low, mid and high-end. The thin design is striking, but it seems to be prone to smudges (see photos). Despite being a bigger market, up until the SLVR Motorola had a very limited offering of candy bar style phones. The SLVR line should ship in the fourth quarter.