Motorola Inc. hopes to roll out its much-anticipated Q smart phone next week, President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Zander said Tuesday.
Motorola has been pushing the Q, a slim handset with a QWERTY keypad, as a rival to Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry and other combined data and voice handsets.
Speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in San Francisco, Zander played up the device as an enterprise tool. At the launch next week, Motorola will be joined by Electronic Data Systems Corp. and IBM Corp. Global Services, as well as its carrier partner and Microsoft Corp., which is supplying the Q's Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, Zander said. The Q will be ideal for applications such as using spreadsheets and CRM (customer relationship management) software on the road, he said.
The Q will come out first for EV-DO, a 3G technology offered in the U.S. by Verizon Wireless Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp., Zander said. It should be available by year's end for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) and possibly HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), a faster version of UMTS.
The Q will include still and video camera features as well as stereo MP3 music-playing capability. It will offer better voice call quality than competing products, Zander said Tuesday.
Zander first showed off the product last July and said then it would ship in 2006's first quarter. On Tuesday he acknowledged the Q was late, saying Motorola had hoped to introduce it in January.
Motorola, the second-biggest seller of mobile phones behind Nokia Corp., is entering a four-way battle of smart phones, said Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney. The Q will go up against Nokia's E61, Palm Inc.'s Treo and the mighty BlackBerry.
The Q's weak point is Microsoft, a recent entrant to the world of push e-mail, Dulaney said.
"Microsoft has underdelivered with the capabilities of its e-mail client," he said. Enterprise workers who are used to BlackBerries will "throw it back." Although Motorola will offer other options for e-mail, it won't offer a BlackBerry client, which some competitors do.
Meanwhile, RIM has the largest existing base in enterprises and Nokia offers good security capabilities and integration with PBXes (private branch exchanges), Dulaney said. Palm, already established in some businesses with its traditional OS, is grappling with the transition to Windows Mobile.
The competition's head start in offices is a key reason why Motorola will aim the Q first at "prosumers," advanced business users who will buy the device on their own, Dulaney said.
The smart phone vendors are battling over the future of enterprise phones, in which both traditional and IP (Internet Protocol) desktop handsets are replaced by mobile devices, Dulaney said. Desk phones are less capable and much more expensive than advanced mobile handsets, which most office workers will carry anyway.
"The PBX vendors are really ripping us off with these overpriced devices," Dulaney said.