Motorola Cliq coming in Q4 with Blur social service

Motorola on Thursday announced its first Android smartphone, which will ship in the fourth quarter with T-Mobile USA under the name Cliq.

The touchscreen phone will use an upcoming Internet-based service for Motorola phones, called Blur, which will integrate information from users' contacts on a variety of social-networking services including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Blur users will be able to combine their contacts on all those networks into one contact list, organize their own groups or divide contacts by social network, according to Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola and CEO of the company's Mobile Devices group.

The Cliq, unveiled at the Mobilize conference in San Francisco, will have a slide-out QWERTY keyboard as well as a touchscreen. It will come with Wi-Fi as well as 3G (third-generation) connectivity, a 5-megapixel camera that can shoot video at 24 frames per second and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

The device will be called the Dext in other markets. In the fourth quarter it will also be introduced with Orange in France and the U.K., Telefónica in Spain and América Móvil in Latin America, Jha said. No pricing was revealed Thursday for any market.

"It's a very important starting point for us," Jha said.

Within the next few days, Motorola will introduce another Android handset that will ship in time for the year-end holiday season, Jha said.

Next year the company will roll out many more devices worldwide, in different form factors, that can use the Blur service, he said.

"I see smartphones as the future of consumer and prosumer computing," Jha said during a conversation on stage with Om Malik, founder of the GigaOm Network, which organized the conference. "If it doesn't fit in your pocket, I don't think it's going to be a relevant device from a consumer and prosumer point of view."

Motorola hopes the new social service, which goes by the full name of Motoblur, will help to differentiate its handsets in an increasingly competitive market. The service can provide a snapshot view of all of a user's e-mail, text and social-networking messages, Jha said. From the same view, the user will be able to respond via any of those methods. It will also keep contacts' posts from all social-networking sites up to date and available for immediate viewing.

All settings and data for the service will be maintained in a cloud infrastructure, so if a phone is lost or stolen, it can be wiped clean remotely. When the user retrieves the phone or gets a new one, they can log back in with the same username and password and get all their data back, Jha said.

The Cliq will have a 320-by-480-pixel display, GPS (Global Positioning System), Google Maps with Street View, and an included 2GB MicroSD card with support for cards as big as 32GB. It will provide six hours of talk time and 325 hours of standby time, according to Motorola. Its standard headphone jack will let users plug in their own headsets.

All applications available on the Android Market will work on the Cliq, according to Cole Brodman, senior vice president and chief technology and innovation officer at T-Mobile USA.

Like other handset makers, Motorola is struggling to compete with Apple's iconic iPhone. The stakes may be higher for Motorola because it hasn't had a big hit since its original Razr earlier this decade, at least a generation ago in the handset world. The Schaumburg, Illinois, company shipped 14.8 million handsets in the second quarter, down from 28.1 million a year earlier. Though other manufacturers have been hit by the recession, Motorola has fallen back more dramatically. Its Mobile Devices division saw its revenue fall 45 percent and lost $253 million in the second quarter.

Early in 2008, Motorola said it might spin off the handset division, its weakest performing unit. But in October, the company said it would delay the spinoff and narrow down the list of software platforms it uses on phones, focusing on Android and Windows Mobile. Jha did not mention Windows Mobile during the Thursday event.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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