San Francisco: Motorola on Thursday introduced a keenly-anticipated Moto X smartphone in a move aimed at reviving the withered mobile device maker bought by Google for USD 12.5 billion.
The Android-powered phone is the first Motorola smartphone created in collaboration with Google since the Internet titan completed its purchase of Motorola Mobility in May of last year.
The Moto X, due for US release in late August, could be a formidable foe in a global market dominated by Samsung, the leading maker of smartphones built with the Google-backed software.
It will also be available at that time in Canada and Latin America
"This was the kind of thing I think Samsung was most worried about," said independent Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.
"On paper, this is arguably the best Android phone on the market," he added. "This is going to upset Samsung and the other licensees quite a bit."
IDC research firm figures for the April-June period showed Samsung on top of the global smartphone market with 30.4 percent to 13.1 percent for Apple, with LG third at 5.1 percent, followed by Lenovo (4.7 percent) and ZTE (4.2 percent).
"Google did not like the fact that Samsung had become so powerful; it basically owns the market," Enderle said of the South Korean consumer electronics giant that has flourished with help from Android software.
"Google was working for Samsung," he continued. "Moto X will challenge that ownership and, if it is as good as it looks, will give control back to Google."
Moto X will have a starting price of $199 in the United States if bought along with a two-year service contract with a telecom service company.
"At Motorola our roots are deep in mobile hardware -- we invented mobile communications," Motorola Mobility Canada general manager Odile Guinot said in a release.
"Now, as a Google company, we've become the kind of company that can build a smartphone like Moto X," Guinot added. "It fuses our history of mobile innovation with the best of Google mobile services."
People can visit an online Moto Maker studio to customize colors, accents, memory capacity and other aspects of handsets, which will be assembled in the United States and delivered free of charge within four days, according to Motorola.
Moto X smartphones are powered by Google's Android software and features include sophisticated voice controls and anticipating what users might want from the Internet at any given moment.
Motorola also streamlined the ease with which smartphone pictures can be taken.
"Moto X promises to be unlike any device we've offered before," said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of devices at US telecom giant AT&T.
Moto X will work on an array of telecom networks, according to Motorola.
"This is a stunning phone to look at," Enderle said. "The long-term fallout of having the best phone be your phone will make other Android licensees think twice."
When the Motorola purchase was completed, the Internet giant said it would "enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing."
Regulators in the US and elsewhere have stressed that they will be watching to make sure that the Mountain View, California-based company does not use Motorola Mobility to obtain an unfair advantage in the market.
Conditions from China's commerce ministry included Google keeping its Android software for smartphones and tablet computers free and open for at least five years.
Google's main reason for buying Motorola was believed by analysts to be getting hold of thousands of patents held by the pioneering smartphone company. Those patents have yet to prove their value.
Motorola Mobility has been laying off workers and selling assets in moves aimed at improving profitability and recovering some of the purchase price.
Motorola Mobility was created in 2011 when US-based Motorola Inc split the company into a mobile devices unit and a government and public safety division known as Motorola Solutions.
"There are plenty of Motorola fans and the Moto X should be strong with them," said technology industry analyst Jeff Kagan.
"Whether it can spread beyond that is the key question and we'll just have to wait and see."
First Published: Friday, August 2, 2013, 09:09