Motorola unveils new phones, Skype deal

Motorola has unveiled a set of stylish new phones and announced an agreement with Skype at the 3GSM World Congress.

Motorola unveiled on Monday a range of new handsets and announced an agreement with Skype Technology, the Internet phone service provider.

After launching the ultra-thin clamshell RAZR phone last year, Motorola will add three new handsets: the special-edition black RAZR V3, the SLVR V8 and the PEBL V6, said Ron Carrigues, executive vice president, at a news conference at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes.

The RAZR V3 and the SLVR V8 phones feature the same rounded, thin design of the initial RAZR phone, which Carrigues said has sold well. The phones will be available in the second quarter.

The PEBL V6 has a smooth, oval design with a dual hinge mechanism, enabling the phone to be opened with one swift motion.

Additional features of the phones include support of higher-speed EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution) technology, MPEG4 for shooting and replaying home videos and an embedded VGA (video graphics array) camera.

Motorola also provided a peek of its long-awaited music phone with Apple Computer's iTunes music player software. The company expects to ship the product by the end of the year.

Motorola also became the first major handset supplier to sign an agreement to preinstall Skype software on a range of its phones, according to Carrigues. "We'll be putting Skype client software on a number of handsets," he said, without specifying which handsets.

Skype has more than 25 million users worldwide.

Asked if the Skype service could draw away minutes from mobile phone operators, Carrigues said no. "I think this service could be chargeable," he said.

After launching six 3G (third-generation) mobile phones last year, Motorola plans to launch 16 new models this year, according to Carrigues. In Cannes, the company unveiled three new models: the E1120, and A1010 and the E1060.

Motorola also launched the D1100 PC card, its first mobile device based on new HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology. This new technology adds greater downstream speeds to 3G devices, up to 14M bps (bits per second).

Riding the tide of new product releases at the wireless show, Motorola unveiled a pair of whacky new sunglasses, called RAZRWire, which use integrated short-range Bluetooth technology to connect to users' mobile phones via a tiny microphone. The product is targeted at cyclists, skateboarders, rock climbers and golfers, who want to keep their hands free.

The company also showed a Bluetooth-enabled motorcycle helmet.

The GSM Association selected Motorola to supply the first handsets for the Emerging Market Handset program, aimed at providing low-cost handsets in emerging markets. The phones will be available for less than US$40.

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John Blau

IDG News Service
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