Motorola gadget to make smartphones like computers

Wed Jan 5, 2011 8:59pm EST

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* Jha plans slimmer lapdoc accessories for more phones

* Eyes 2011 phone range around similar size to 2010

* Does not plan to offer Microsoft based phone

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Its dumb and its called a lapdoc but Motorola Mobility (MMI.N) bets consumers will want to use this gadget to make their smartphones work more like real computers and help Motorola stand out from the crowd.

The company that invented the cellphone unveiled the Atrix 4G phone, which will attach to a new type of accessory called a lapdoc -- a "dumb" device that looks like a laptop computer but does not work without the phone attached. It has a laptop size screen and a keyboard aimed at better Web browsing, video viewing and typing than on a phone.

Chief Executive Sanjay Jha told Reuters in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show that he aims to develop slimmer lapdocs onto which consumers could attach multiple phones.

While consumers can use smartphones for a lot of computing activities such as web browsing, Jha said they need more than this for long emails or watching a movie on a plane.

"I like it a lot because all we've done is added accessories to our devices and added applications that change the way you can use them," Jha said. "I think we've a chance of differentiating ourselves."

After the product unveiling in a big packed room where attendees cheered and clapped after seeing the demonstration Jha said he already has plans in place to expand the line up.

"If you wait you miss the slot, so you have to commit," he said.

The No. 2 U.S. mobile provider AT&T Inc (T.N) highlighted Atrix at its product showcase earlier in the day and said it would sell it at a "competitive price" starting this quarter.

MARKETING HIKE

Motorola will also try to boost sales in the new product category with a marketing splash on the Atrix and lapdoc, which are so unusual, they need to be explained more carefully to consumers than typical phones, Jha said.

But Chief Marketing Officer Bill Ogle told Reuters that while Motorola will spend "dramatically more" on marketing this year it will still be a relatively small amount versus spending on devices like Razr, its flagship phone from 2004 to 2006.

Jha said Motorola Mobility, which was newly created a day before Jan. 4 as a spin off from Motorola Inc, would be cautious not to over-extend itself this year. The executive has revamped the company in the last two years by focusing solely on smartphones based on Google Inc's (GOOG.O) Android software.

With this in mind Jha said Motorola would not branch into new operating systems such as Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and will instead continue to focus on building Android phones for the foreseeable future.

Motorola will also keep its device lineup the same size or smaller than its 2010 range of 23 phone models, Jha said.

"We think more and more than doing fewer devices better is more important that doing lots of devices," Jha said noting that some mid-range devices made less of a financial contribution than Motorola had expected last year. He did not give details about these phones.

Jha said the company would launch a range of tablet computers this year. The top two U.S. mobile operators Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc (T.N) both said they would sell Motorola tablets, which compete with the Apple Inc (AAPL.O) iPad.

Jha had a positive outlook for the industry in 2011.

"It looks like 2011, at a macro economic level, will be good. And as I look at the quality of developments, the competition between carriers and between handset makers, it kind of feels like 2011 should be a exciting year," Jha said.

For other stories from the CES, see [ID:nN03289143].

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Gary Hill)

((sinead.carew@thomsonreuters.com; + 1 646 234 1561)) Keywords: CES/MOTOROLA

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