Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility unit will release a flagship smartphone this summer called the Moto X, which may be the actual name of the long-rumored "X Phone." The Moto X will be part of a series of new smartphones meant to reinvigorate the brand, according to Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside.
On Wednesday evening at AllThingsD's D11 conference Woodside disclosed a handful of new details about the company's strategy and its first real smartphones since being acquired by Google in 2012. He said the company will employ 2,000 people in a 480,000-square-foot facility in Texas that used to manufacture Nokia (NYSE:NOK) phones to build the Moto X, though the phone's processors will come from Taiwan and the OLED screens will come from South Korea. He said 70 percent of the manufacturing of the Moto X will happen in the United States--a notable achievement considering most phone manufacturing has moved to Asia.
Woodside, who formerly ran Google's advertising sales business in the Americas, said the company will reinvigorate its roots as a technology pioneer. "I sat down with (Google CEO) Larry Page about what we are going to do," he said, according to CNET. "We will take it back to the roots of innovation and build devices that have the potential to change people's lives."
The Motorola chief was joined onstage at the conference by Regina Dugan, the former DARPA head who now leads advanced research for Motorola. He said the Moto X will be the leading edge of a rebirth of Motorola's product line and that the company will introduce a handful of new devices by October.
The Moto X will use numerous technologies based on sensors and will be more contextually aware than other smartphones, Woodside said. The phone will know, for example, when you are traveling more than 60 mph and will switch into a new mode to make it safer to use when driving. "Motorola has always been good at managing power on the device, but we're really good at managing sensors," he said, according to The Verge. "We know when it's in your pocket, we know when it's in your hand, it's going to know when you want to take a picture and fire up the cameras."
"I'm pretty confident of the products we are going to ship throughout the fall," Woodside said, according to AllThingsD. "They are unlike other things out there."
Woodside also hinted that Motorola will be working with more carriers than it has in the recent past, when its U.S. sales were largely dominated by the Droid-branded phones it made for Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). As PhoneScoop notes, the FCC has recently approved high-end, unannounced Motorola phones for Verizon, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), which may all be variants of the Moto X.
"This phone is going to be broadly distributed, which is a first for us in a while," Woodside said, according to The Verge. "And the response we're getting from carriers is great." More broadly, Woodside said: "One of the areas we think is open for Motorola is building high-quality, low-cost devices. That's a huge market."
And what of Motorola's relationship to Android, whose development is managed by Google? "We are supported by parts of Google, but Android is separate," Woodside said, according to The Verge. "We have the same access, we are managed by the same partner managers." He said Motorola "can't work with part of Google to get special treatment."
Speaking to AllThingsD after his appearance, Woodside said that Motorola is mostly done with layoffs, having shrunk from 20,000 employees a year ago to around 4,000 employees now mostly based in Chicago and California. He also said the company is pulling back from the tablet market because its focus on power efficiency isn't used there and because that market requires different distribution than the smartphone market.
"A lot of what we know isn't as important in the tablet," he said. "For now we haven't been focused on that. That may change."
Dugan said she joined Motorola because she likes a "scrappy underdog" and that mobile needed more rapid innovation. "Let me tell you about my second interaction with Dennis," she said, according to The Verge. "He said we've decided to go with someone with experience in mobile, and I said that's a great strategy for not losing and a lousy strategy for winning. A week later I had the job."
- see this Motorola site
- see this AllThingsD video
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this separate AllThingsD article
- see this third AllThingsD article
- see this The Verge live blog
- see this The Verge article
- see this CNET article
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