Motorola announced its first mobile device based on the Google Android operating system. The device, dubbed the Cliq, will be available later this year exclusively from T-Mobile and is also the first device to feature Motorola's innovative new MotoBlur feature.
Motorola hopes the move to the Google Android operating system will help boost sales and increase revenue. Because the operating system is open source, Motorola is not whittling away at the profit margin with licensing fees. At the same time, Google Android allows Motorola to develop a robust interface with powerful tools comparable to the iPhone, Palm Pre, or Windows Mobile platforms.
One such powerful tool is MotoBlur. MotoBlur is a pioneering feature which aggregates social networking and messaging information into an integrated custom interface. MotoBlur pulls information like email messages, text messages, Facebook updates, Twitter feeds, and pictures together in one place on the main screen. The MotoBlur feature allows people to stay connected and up to date at-a-glance without having to access multiple separate apps.
Motorola is also providing data backup through MotoBlur. User information will be backed up to Blur servers so that if a user's Cliq is lost or stolen their contacts, customized home-screens, emails, and other data can be retrieved and uploaded to a new device. A backup feature can come in handy, but some users are apprehensive about trusting all of that personal information to a third party- even Motorola.
Motorola has had a rougher year than most other mobile device manufacturers. The number of handsets shipped by Motorola is down almost 50 percent from a year ago and revenue for the mobile devices division has fallen almost as far.
On the mobile service provider side of this exclusive alliance, T-Mobile is languishing in 4th place for the United States market. With roughly 12 percent of the market, T-Mobile is almost insurmountably behind market leaders Verizon and AT&T. It is within reach of 3rd place mobile service provider Sprint, but Sprint's cutting edge 4G network and the announcement of unlimited mobile to mobile minutes regardless of carrier may put some distance between them.
The innovative MotoBlur feature provides Motorola with a unique edge that no other device is currently duplicating. The Cliq seems like a decent device at first glance and the fact that MotoBlur is only available on the Cliq (for now) and the Cliq is only available from T-Mobile should be able to lure some customers over.
But, the Cliq is no iPhone, even with MotoBlur. This device and the alliance between Motorola and T-Mobile is a step in the right direction for both companies, but I expect that the Cliq will get a reception more on par with the Palm Pre than the Apple iPhone.
Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice, and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.