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Motorola Sticks With Microsoft for Biz Phone

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is sticking with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) for its latest enterprise communications device, even as it dives deep into the Android operating system for consumer smartphones.

The company showed off the new ES400 enterprise digital assistant, which somewhat resembles its top-selling Droid phone in size and feel, in New York Thursday. The device will be available "later this year" on the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) network. Motorola, Microsoft, and Sprint were on hand to explain why the ES400 wasn't your average consumer-grade smartphone.

Among the many reasons offered:

  • The device hooks back into multiple business applications.
  • It is built to military spec, so you splash it with water and drop it and it won't break.
  • It features one-touch data capture, so you can scan bar-codes, take pictures for your trouble tickets, or send video.
  • The enterprise can customize the interface and troubleshoot the phone remotely.
  • It has a resistive touch-screen, which means you can use it with your gloves.
While Motorola's mobile devices unit is going gaga for Android, the company has decided to stick with the tried and true Windows mobile 6.5 Professional for this latest enterprise device.

"Operating systems take a while to mature; with Windows Mobile we get security and control," explained Thomas Quirke, Motorola's director of solutions marketing. For instance, if the ES400 is stolen or lost, a user can have its contents wiped and the device rendered inoperable.

Microsoft and Motorola are promising an upgrade path for enterprise devices, too. The Windows Embedded Handheld OS will be based on the current 6.5 code and be available later this year. A version of the Handheld edition based on Windows Mobile 7 will become available next year. [Ed. note: Confused yet?]

Motorola's enterprise communicator line is likely to eventually be upgraded to support Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, rather than following the mobile WiMax path that carrier partner Sprint is currently on. "LTE is obviously a global standard," says Motorola's Quirke. He gave, however, no indication of when such upgrades might happen. LTE networks aren't yet live in much of the world, and enterprises tend to be much more conservative about adopting new wireless technology than consumers.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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