Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Morning Brief - focus on mobile: Motorola is back again with the Razr, this time running Android; RIM says it will unify its platform with BBX, but with no launch date

The WSJ's All Things D has a quote from Google's mobile chief Andy Rubin stating that the company plans to manage their new acquisition, Motorola, "at arm's length". While there is reason to be highly skeptical of such a claim, maybe the reintroduction of the Razr is evidence of this.

Just as General Motors keeps the Buick brand alive, Motorola too believes their Razr brand still has some value. First launched in 2004, the Razr was one of the first thin cell phones, sold as a fashionable phone – that is, until smartphones began to take over in 2007.

Now the Razr is returning as an Android phone.

"It was the first innovative phone that was thin — I can see why they would use it," said William Lozito, chief branding officer at Strategic Name Development, in a Chicago Tribune story this morning. "But I think initially, consumers are going to associate it with a tired brand."

The new Droid Razr's specs are pretty impressive – 1 GB of RAM, an 8 megapixel camera, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, an HDMI output port – but it is running an older version of Android (Android 2.3.5, known as Gingerbread), and will be priced at $299 with a two-year contract.

I have my doubts about this move, but then again, people still buy Buicks, right?

Speaking of legacy brands: Research In Motion revealed a new operating system that it wants to drive its next generation of BlackBerry smartphones and tablets. Called BBX, the new OS was announced at its developer conference in San Francisco yesterday.

Unfortunately, the announcement will hardly get developers excited to begin creating for the the new platform as it was not followed up by launch dates – a continuing practice of many companies today.

"If they had introduced a BBX device that would be ready to go tomorrow, people would be jumping up and down," the WSJ quoted Sina Sojoodi, a principal engineer at Xtreme Labs saying. "But they didn't, so that was a bit frustrating." No kidding.

But the move is still a step in the right direction – a unified OS across its product lines. If RIM can accomplish this, as well as deliver attractive new mobile offerings, it stands a chance of being an important platform for developers who see Apple's consistent iOS platform as still the easiest to develop for.