Motorola revives brand with Droid Razr


  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011

razr2online

NEW YORK: Motorola Mobility is reviving its once-popular Razr brand to tout its latest gadget, the Droid Razr, as the world’s slimmest smartphone.

The company, which agreed to be bought by Google Inc for US$12.5bil (RM37.5bil), hopes to compete with arch-rival Apple Inc’s iPhone when it hits US store shelves next month.

But the device, which sports a more powerful chip than the iPhone and faster wireless web speeds, costs US$299 (RM900) compared with the US$199 (RM600) price tag for the latest iPhone 4S.

The Razr brand was hugely popular from 2004 to 2006 but by 2007 it had lost its buzz, forcing the company to back away from the brand and undergo a complete restructuring.

While the Droid Razr could draw some customers from iPhone at Verizon Wireless, NPD analyst Ross Rubin said it would be unlikely to be as big a hit as Motorola’s previous Razr, which sold more than 130 million units over several years.

Only about 10% of US consumers would buy a US$300 phone, Rubin said. “That’s a relatively small part of the market. At US$199, it would be an explosive seller.”

In addition to Apple, Motorola also has to contend with rivals Samsung Electronics Co and HTC Corp, which are expected to come out with new devices for Verizon’s fastest network before the end of November.

While Avian Securities analyst Matthew Thornton was impressed with the new phone, he was sceptical that it would put any dent in iPhone sales.

“Motorola seems to be holding its position at Verizon with that phone,” he said but added, “I don’t think there’s room for any share gain there because iPhone isn’t going to give away share. Nor is Samsung or HTC.”

Outside of the US market, Motorola’s latest device will simply be called Razr. The company hopes to rekindle the allure of its original Razr, which was the thinnest flip phone on the market when it made its debut in 2004.

While cutting-edge consumers had moved on from Razr by 2007, Motorola product manager Alain Mutricy said that the brand is still fresh in consumers’ minds.

“Still today in the minds of people, Razr stood for the thinnest device of its time,” and for elegant design, Mutricy told Reuters at an event where the device was unveiled.

MotoActv

Motorola also introduced MotoActv, a combined music player, performance tracker and GPS device aimed at fitness enthusiasts.

This device will start at US$249 (RM747) for an 8-gigabyte version and US$299 (RM900) for a 16 gigabyte version, a range that Rubin described as pricey in comparison with rival devices.

The fitness gadget will go on sale at US retailers such as Best Buy as well as Verizon Wireless stores.

Motorola uses Google’s Android software to power its smartphones. The Droid Razr, sporting Corning Glass, will be able to download movies from Netflix Inc and comes with front-facing and back-facing cameras. The phone, unveiled days after Apple’s iPhone 4S hit markets, is the latest iteration of a line-up that helped stage a recovery for Motorola after years of market share losses.

Around the middle of the last decade, the Razr became the most successful phone brand in Motorola’s history. But Motorola’s over-dependence on the Razr became a symbol of the company’s downfall.

After two years on the market, Razr started to lose its lustre amid tough competition and heavy carrier discounts.

That led to years of market-share losses as Motorola failed to come up with another hot device to replace Razr.

Motorola started to turn around in late 2009 with the launch of its first Droid phone sold through Verizon Wireless, a unit of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc. — Reuters


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