Having suffered through a disastrous 2007 that included disappearing profits, management turmoil, massive layoffs and falling from second to third in global cell phone sales, Motorola Jan. 7 introduced two new handsets aimed at the consumer market.
At least one of the devices, predicts one analyst, could be a breakout hit for Motorola.
As part of the opening day of the Consumers Electronic Show in Las Vegas, Motorola pushed out the Rokr E8 music phone and the Moto Z10, which records video and allows users to edit the video and e-mail the final product. The Z10 has the storage capacity to hold 24 hours of video.
Motorola also said Jan. 6 it had struck a deal to buy Soundbuzz, an Asian digital music service, for an undisclosed price. According to Motorola, Soundbuzz has access to one of the most extensive music libraries in the Asia-Pacific region, through licenses from Sony BMG, EMI, Warner Music International and Universal Music Group.
"At CES 2008, Motorola will demonstrate 'must-have' and intuitive mobile devices that allow consumers to explore and enrich every facet of their lives," Stu Reed, president of Motorola Mobile Devices, said in a statement.
With an obvious nod to the popular iPhone, Motorola's new Rokr E8 shifts from a cell phone to a music player with one click. The device features Motorola's new ModeShift and FastScroll technology. The Rokr E8's touch-screen interface allows users to navigate menus and explore all of the content stored on the device with just a slide of the thumb.
Click here to read about the ouster of Ed Zander as Motorola CEO.
Tony Rizzo, director of mobile technology research at New York's 451 Group, said Motorola might have its first winner in the Z10 since its original Razr phone was released. The widely popular Razr drove sales and profits for Motorola, but the company has been unable to follow up with a subsequent hit product.
"The Z10 film studio on a mobile phone is very cool and may prove to be a breakout consumer device," Rizzo said. "Over six months it is likely to force the competition to compete."
Motorola bills the Z10 as a "complete, pocket-sized, mobile film studio." The Z10 allows users to edit video, create transitions between scenes, and add title slides and music. The 2.2-inch QVGA screen displays video at 30 frames per second. It also supports an external memory card with up to 32GB of storage.
"Consumers will like the slim package much more than Nokia's chunky high-end phones and [it] may lead to Moto regaining some share based on up-to-the-minute coolness factor," Rizzo said.
Rizzo had no opinion on the new Motorola Rokr E8 music phone, but continued to pitch his support for the company's Q line of smart phones, although he said he doesn't see a breakout for the device.
"The new Q variant is the one that interests me the most, but alas and frankly, I don't see it offering anything that will allow Moto to gain any business whatsoever relative to BlackBerry in the enterprise," Rizzo said.
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