Motorola, Verizon to sell Droid business phone

SAN FRANCISCO Tue Oct 5, 2010 9:45pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Motorola Inc said on Tuesday Verizon Wireless would sell the Droid Pro, the mobile phone maker's first device for business customers based on Google Inc's popular Android operating system.

Boasting push email with corporate-level security among the phone's features, Motorola is aiming squarely at the market dominated by Research In Motion's Blackberry, which is also sold at Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 U.S. mobile operator.

Verizon's heavy promotion of Motorola's first two Droid phones the Droid and the Droid X, has helped Motorola revitalize its ailing phone business since late last year.

Motorola said the new device supports Adobe Systems' Flash software and has Wi-Fi short-range wireless connections that can be used in areas of spotty cellular network coverage.

The Droid Pro features a fixed a keyboard bar as well as a 3.1-inch touchscreen display. Motorola did not reveal pricing. The Droid Pro will be available in early November through the mobile venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone.

Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha said BlackBerry users are eager to switch to a device that offers more functionality. He said that most people buy a smartphone themselves, but want access to their company email, something he called the "consumerization of the enterprise."

"Consumers like certain phones, but they just want those enterprise features," Jha said in an interview on Tuesday ahead of the CTIA trade show in San Francisco. CTIA-The Wireless Association, an international trade group, represents all wireless communication sectors.

When asked about the holiday season, Jha said: "We have experienced a very modest slowdown ... this recovery wasn't that strong anyways, but we haven't seen a tremendous waning in this recovery as far as our portfolio is concerned," he said.

Motorola plans to separate its phone and set-top box units from its wireless enterprise business in the first quarter.

Jha said the spinoff will probably take place in the early part of the first quarter.

SLEW OF ANDROID DEVICE

Motorola also announced a slew of new consumer smartphones based on Android, including a cheaper model named Citrus, which will also be sold at Verizon Wireless in the fourth quarter.

Citrus comes with a Qwerty key-board and features Microsoft Corp's Bing search engine.

Motorola competes with Apple Inc's iPhone and Samsung Electronics in the fast-growing smartphone market.

While Verizon Wireless has helped put Motorola back on the map in smartphones, some analysts have worried that Motorola is too dependent on the operator, especially because of rumors Apple will expend iPhone distribution next year.

With this in mind, Motorola earlier Tuesday announced three new lower-end Android phones that will go on sale at No. 2 U.S. operator AT&T Inc in time for holiday shoppers.

Android-based phones have surged in popularity this year. According to the latest data from research group Nielsen, Android is the No. 3 smartphone platform in the United States, behind BlackBerry and Apple's iOS.

But Android was the most popular platform among customers who bought smartphones in the past six months, Nielsen said. (Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Richard Chang, Gary Hill)

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