Motorola Inc., the world’s second biggest mobile phone maker, unveiled on Monday an ultra thin mobile phone with a keyboard, aimed at people who have become addicted to Blackberry e-mail and messaging devices.Motorola said the latest handset, dubbed the “Q,” was inspired by the ultra-thin design of its popular Razr phone — which has become a design icon and status symbol. The “Q” is slimmer than the Razr and about 50 percent thinner than top rival phones that have tiny keyboards built-in, it said.
The phone pits Motorola, which trails only Finland’s Nokia in the mobile phone market, directly against Research In Motion Ltd. and Palm Inc., which make some of the most popular keyboard phones. Rim’s Blackberry is viewed as the leading mobile e-mail device.
“The biggest question is whether they can chip away against the Blackberry dominance,” said RBC analyst Mark Sue, adding that he was “encouraged” by the latest phone’s shape.
Shares of Motorola closed up almost 3 percent and Research In Motion closed down almost 5 percent on Monday after reports that Motorola would show a Blackberry rival at an event here in Rosemont, a Chicago suburb.
“Given the success of Motorola’s Razr… in the market right now, its understandable that some people are worrying about that,” said Kona Shio, an analyst with research firm Conscius Capital Partners.
Motorola’s “Q” is based on software from Microsoft Corp. and can support e-mail from a variety of third party applications, including Microsoft’s, Motorola said. It expects the device to go on sale in the first quarter of 2006.
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, who joined the event via a video link, said he believed the companies would sell “a heck of a lot” of the new phones.
Chief Executive Ed Zander said the “Q” was one of many upcoming products that would help Motorola beat its rivals.
“I don’t think there’s another company that can put together a product line like that,” Zander said.