Analysts arent quite ready to predict that the Redmond, Wash.-based giant will take over a new market, however. "Its very significant for them, but they still have an enormous amount to prove," said Ben Wood, a telecommunications analyst for Gartner. "They have to make sure this is a success, get other manufacturers signed up and keep improving the software."He said Microsoft-powered offerings have a long way to go to overcome the head start of Symbian Ltd., a European-based consortium that includes Nokia and Ericsson and is the top competitor for Microsoft in smart phone software. Motorola was a founding member of the Symbian venture but recently sold its stake to Nokia and Psion PLC. The sleek, clamshell-design Motorola MPx200while laden with Web-related, multimedia and other functionsis first of all a cell phone, the two companies say. Users can manage their personal information and synchronize their e-mail, calendar and contacts, browse the Web, download and listen to digital music and view video clips. Motorola vice president Michael Tatelman said the new phones can help the Schaumburg, Ill.-based company gain new customers. "While there are millions of business users that use Motorola devices, were encouraging them to trade up so we can expand that base," he said. While Motorola and Microsoft declined to reveal the price, Gartenberg said it likely will be comparable to similar offerings by Nokia Corp. and Sony Ericssonin the $100 to $300 range, depending on how much AT&T Wireless decides to subsidize the cost. The new phones also are expected to be available next month in Europe from Orange SA, the English-French wireless provider, and in Hong Kong from Telecom Service Network Ltd. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.
Wood previewed one of the phones and said he saw "marked improvements" over previous products on the software platform and in design. "The main thing is its faster," he said.