The stakes are high for Motorola. Many people have questioned if their bet on Android can turn the company around. I’m no Wall Street analyst, but I’m here to tell you the answer is yes.
Imagine the following scenario: Verizon, America’s largest wireless carrier, releases Motorola’s first Android phone (based on the Snapdragon platform) just in time for the crucial holiday shopping season. Would that get you excited?
It might sound far fetched, but it is closer to reality than you think. Motorola has told everyone they are making Android phones, but have been very tight lipped about the actual handsets. Reports had placed the rumored Motorola Calgary as Verizon’s first Android phone, but it was unclear on the exact specs or time frame of the device.
The picture got a little clearer today when new images of the Motorola “Sholes” were leaked by a Russian fan site. The design is an updated version of the Calgary renders we saw and now has the Verizon logo clearly displayed on the front. The specs were impressive, but conveniently left out the CPU.
Highlight of the Motorola “Sholes” include:
- 3.7-inch touch-sensitive display with a resolution 480×854 pixels
- Memory 512 MB Flash ROM / 256 MB RAM / micro SDHC slot
- Camera 5 MP with auto focus
- Dimensions 60.00 x 115.80 x 13.70 mm
- Weight 169g
- Battery Li-ion 1400mAh
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
- 802.11g WiFi
Expect more details of the phone soon. Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha said on Thursday’s quarterly earnings call that we would see their first devices soon. “Around mid september time frame, we hope to be able to let you play with these (Android) devices more and get your feedback as to where you think it fits into the marketplace.”
Mr. Jha made it clear the phones will go on sale in the 4th quarter. “We will have two Android devices in stores for the holiday season. We have deals that are signed and we will launch with two major carriers in North America and multiple carriers outside the US.”
All signs point to Verizon launching the Motorola “Sholes” and T-Mobile offering the Motorola Morrison. It is clear the “Sholes” is the higher end device and it could be Android’s flagship phone for 2009. Verizon has been trying to get their hands on the iPhone, but it won’t be happening anytime soon. The “Sholes” is Verizon’s best opportunity to have a device that directly competes with Apple.
There are hints floating around that suggest “Sholes” could provide real hype for Verizon.
Why was the CPU info mysteriously left off the leaked specs of “Sholes”? Could it be that the phone will be based off the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform? This would provide the needed fire power to speed up Android. We know a CPU bump is coming after getting four Android phones in a row with the older Qualcomm MSM72xx processor. The Snapdragon platform, with a 1 GHz CPU, is the next logical step for Android.
Before recently joining Motorola as its new CEO, Sanjay Jha spent over a decade working at Qualcomm. He led and oversaw the development of five generations of modem and cell site chipsets, before becoming COO of Qualcomm. I believe Mr. Jha has been so secretive about Motorola’s handset design because they have a big surprise for us.
We have seen Windows Mobile phones (Toshiba TG01) based off Snapdragon already pass the FCC. Is it that hard to believe Motorola will unveil a 1 GHz Android phone? They need to make an impression with their first Android device and I believe it will be the Snapdragon platform.
The possible addition of the Android 2.0 stamp could add even more momentum to Motorola’s first Android phone. As we have learned over the last month, Android 2.0 is just marketing fluff and Google can whip it out whenever they choose. Who knows if the Donut branch will even be a release. Google could choose to hold off their next update to include new features being worked on in Eclair and Flan.
All of these Android releases are carefully coordinated between Google, the carriers, and the handset manufacturers. Google could have promised Verizon the Android 2.0 moniker to launch their first phone. This may explain why they stopped updating their roadmap if marketing deals are still being done behind closed doors.
All we can do is wait till September as the speculation builds. What do you think Motorola has up their sleeve?
Update 7/31: Motorola could preview their upcoming devices at the Mobilize 09 event on September 10, 2009. The keynote lineup includes Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha and T-Mobile CTO Cole Brodman. Qualcomm COO Len Lauer is also on the speaker lineup. That sounds like an event I would like to attend.