May 16, 2006 3:29 PM PDT
Motorola's Q could ring by next week
"We're in the final throes of getting it released," Ed Zander, Motorola's CEO, said during a question-and-answer session at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo taking place here this week. "We are a little late. We thought it would be out in January."
Zander wasn't specific about the cause of the delay, except to say the Q was a more complex product than expected. Motorola announced the device last July and briefly expected the phone to come out for the holidays in 2005.
The Q is a high-end phone that Motorola will try to pitch to corporations as well as consumers. It sports a thumb keyboard and a relatively large screen, similar to the BlackBerry. Corporate buyers will use the product as their primary phone, but also as a substitute for notebooks in certain situations. Zander said he uses his Q instead of a notebook on short business trips. Many buyers will access corporate applications off the device, he said.
The Q, however, is thinner than a BlackBerry and boasts a number of consumer-like features such as a bright screen for watching videos and an MP3 player. During an interview, Zander used the device to play video clips of sporting events and a music video.
Carriers and movie studios are currently coming up with strategies for putting video and music services together for entertainment phones, he said. In some countries, phone TV has already taken off. In South Korea, for instance, consumers can now pay $14.95 a month for full TV service on a phone. The FIFA World Cup will drive adoption in Europe.
"The real question is, what are you going to watch and how long are you going to watch?" Zander said. "If you were in Italy, you'd be seeing soccer games" on your phone.
Historically, style isn't a word many consumers associated with Motorola. That began to change with the Razr, the slim cell phone released a about a year and a half ago that let Motorola beat back a challenge from Samsung. Over the past two years, Motorola has come out with a series of phones with a greater emphasis on style and design than in the past. It has also worked closely with companies such as Apple Computer, Yahoo and Kodak to improve the functionality of the company's phones. Correspondingly, Motorola's market share has picked up.
Over time, cell phones could begin to displace landline phones at home and work. Motorola, in fact, is working with cable providers to allow consumers to swap out traditional phones for cellular models.
Carriers and cell phone makers are also trying to figure out ways to blend cellular service with other wireless technologies such as WiMax. WiMax and Wi-Fi will inevitably carry voice and data traffic on handsets.
"In a year or two, every device will have a Wi-Fi option," Zander said. The main project for carriers now is to figure out how to mesh the different wireless options smoothly so calls don't get dropped.