CES 2011: Moto's 4G Gadgets Blur Lines

LAS VEGAS -- 2011 International CES -- Fresh from its spinoff, Motorola Mobility LLC is coming on strong, announcing four category-blurring products, including its first Long Term Evolution (LTE) smart phone, an Android 3.0 tablet and an HSPA+ smart phone that doubles as a PC.

Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha unveiled the products at a pre-International CES press conference Wednesday, touting the connection between the home and mobile devices, the two business units he's now heading up. (See Motorola Mobility is Go!)

First up, Jha brought back the Atrix 4G for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), introduced at the carrier's developer conference earlier in the day. The most notable feature of the smart phone is Moto WebTop, which turns a monitor into a full Web browser running next to the phone's high-definition interface. (See CES 2011: AT&T Accelerates LTE Push.)

Jha noted that most people get through 80 percent of their day on their smart phone alone, but WebTop is designed for the other 20 percent, when tasks require a larger screen, Web browser and mouse.

The Atrix is coming to AT&T's HSPA+ network, but Moto saved its first true 4G phone for Verizon Wireless 's LTE network in the second quarter. The Droid Bionic, "representing the end of waiting," comes with 2GHz of processing power, a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, HD video capture and a suite of enterprise features. (See Verizon 4G Androids Expected at CES.)

But that's not all Moto has in store for LTE.

"We have seen the market for tablets grow over the past 12 months, and I've been asked many times if we will enter this space," Jha told attendees, although it hasn't been much of a question for a long time now. Moto confirmed Xoom, its first tablet for Verizon, running Android 3.0 Honeycomb, the newest iteration of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s operating system built for the larger form factor. The tablet will be available in the first quarter for 3G networks, to be upgraded to 4G when the faster version is introduced.

T-Mobile US Inc. wasn't left out of the Moto merriment either, as it got the new Cliq, a follow-up to Moto's original social networking-inspired phone.

Why this matters
Motorola needed a big bang coming off the split, and being the first to announce an LTE smart phone and tablet -- impressive ones to boot -- for Verizon should do the trick. The new devices may not be the only ones announced at the show -- Verizon is likely to reveal more in its keynote address -- but they give Moto a couple of dogs in the fight.

WebTop is also an interesting move for the company. It is betting on consumers' willingness to buy accessories to get the best of both worlds -- smart phone and PC. The combination will take some explaining to consumers, but it was compelling when demonstrated from afar.

For more
For more on LTE smart phone and tablet progress, check out the following stories:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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