Motorola's Q Looks to Dial Into BlackBerry Success

By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Motorola Inc. is taking aim at the success of the BlackBerry mobile phone and e-mail device with a similar product of its own, which the company unveiled at an analyst conference in Chicago this week.

Dubbed the Q, Motorola's device will feature a color screen, a keyboard and a digital camera. Motorola said the "smartphone" gadget is scheduled to hit retail shelves in the first quarter of 2006 but did not announce a price for the product, which will use an operating system from Microsoft Corp.

Michael Gartenberg, research director at Jupiter Research, said that phones providing e-mail and Internet connectivity along with voice service typically look a bit clunkier than Motorola's new product. The Q might provide the fashion of the consumer phone with the functionality of cell phones favored by business users, he said.

"This is really one of the first efforts to merge these two worlds together into a compelling product," he said. Though Gartenberg said he thinks the Q looks promising, "it's not a small challenge that Motorola is taking on here. The question is going to be how well they execute."

Tom Gutnick, a technology consultant based in Arlington who reviews gadgets for a local tech user group publication, said he thinks Motorola may have a hard time getting traction because the BlackBerry, made by a Canadian company called Research in Motion Ltd., holds such dominant market share. "BlackBerry owns the brand for that kind of device," he said.

Motorola unveiled the Q at an analyst conference, Motonow, among a flurry of other new products in the works, such as a pair of Oakley Inc. sunglasses with a built-in Motorola wireless headset. The glasses are scheduled to be available next month for $295.

One highly anticipated gizmo failed to debut at the conference. Motorola said last year that it had an agreement with Apple Computer Inc. to create a phone compatible with the popular iTunes digital music store, but has yet to release it. Motorola chief executive Edward J. Zander told analysts at the conference that such a phone will be on sale by the end of September.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company