Google bets on custom colors with first flagship Moto X phone

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO Thu Aug 1, 2013 3:06pm EDT

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO Aug 1 (Reuters) - Motorola on Thursday unveiled its highly anticipated Moto X smartphone, which will be customizable with different colors for AT&T customers and marks the cellphone maker's first flagship device since Google Inc bought the company in 2012.

The Moto X will go on sale in the United States at the end of August or the beginning of September for a suggested retail price of $199.99 to customers who sign a two-year contract at five of the biggest U.S. mobile network operators.

Google, which spent $12.5 billion to acquire money-losing Motorola, faces a steep climb in its effort to revive the mobile phone pioneer in a smartphone market now dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.

Once the global No. 2 phone maker, Motorola's market share was down to 2 percent in the second quarter, ranking it 12th among smartphone makers, according to Research firm Strategy Analytics.

Motorola is betting that it can win over consumers by offering a huge palette of colors to personalize their phones as well as unusual phone materials such as wood.

In order to promise delivery of customized phones within four days, Motorola had contract manufacturing partner Flextronics International Ltd build a factory in the United States.

AT&T Inc, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service provider, will have exclusive rights to let its customers customize the phone from a selection of 18 colors for the back, two colors for the front and seven accent colors for an undisclosed time period.

Rivals Verizon Wireless, Sprint Corp, T-Mobile US and U.S. Cellular will only be able to offer black-and-white versions of the device.

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