Friday, December 21, 2012

Motorola buidling an 'X Phone' to compete with iPhones, Galaxy devices

Motorola Mobility once looked to Google's Android platform to save itself. Later, Google looked to Motorola Mobility -- and acquired it -- to add patents help in its defense -- although it hasn't needed them yet -- against potential Apple legal action.
It's Samsung that is under legal attack by Apple, and it's Samsung that is currently no. 1 in both smartphones and cell phones globally. Apple has more than 50 percent sales market share in the U.S.

Motorola isn't giving up, however. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal said the Google division is working on what is being called an "X phone." This superphone is supposed to be designed to be a single handset that can immediately compete with and rival Apple's iPhone and Samsung's flagship Galaxy handsets. Motorola will follow that phone up with a similar X Tablet.

When most think of the top single phones, they think iPhone and Galaxy. What, then, will Motorola do to separate its X Phone from the rest of the crowd? It's unclear, and it's also unclear how other manufacturers will react to this news.

While Google has long said that Motorola would operate as a separate entity, and while Motorola didn't even get to build the latest Nexus phone for its parent company, OEMs are still looking at the pair suspiciously.

The effort is being headed up by former Google product manager Lior Ron. Sources said that among the features that Motorola looked at for the X Phone were bendable screens, ceramic materials (to allow more color and different shapes), and better features for the X Phone's camera and photo software, such as better color saturation and panoramic features.

However, some of these features were found to drain battery life. In addition, some have already been incorporated into recent devices, such as the iPhone 5, but one would assume that matching an iPhone 5 feature, if it's not something you currently have in your phone, would not be discounted.

Motorola accounted for less than 3 percent of Android phone shipments in the third quarter of 2012, making it a tiny blip on the radar compared to either Samsung or Apple.

Full disclosure: We once used Motorola Android handsets, but have since adopted the Samsung Galaxy S III and will stick with Samsung going forward. From our perspective, it's been less about the hardware specs, and more about the software performance that made us change our minds.

Truly, we admire the hardware feel of Motorola smartphones and tablets. They feel solid and strong in our hands. However, as much as we rail against UI layers on Android, such as TouchWiz, we admire the advantages that a Samsung Android load gives us.

There are rumors that Motorola's UI layer, Blur, might go the way of the original RAZR flip-phone. That's unclear, though. Whatever the case, Motorola and Google need to work together to get its software experience more user-friendly and feature-full, it it wants to compete with either Apple or Samsung.

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