Thu, Jan 27, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Tech Review - Motorola a ringer in cellphone sales

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Nokia 2650.

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan's Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics released an interesting figure in the middle of this month claiming that, of 12 countries, Taiwan led the world with the most cellular phone subscribers -- 111 per 100 people.

While the report didn't elaborate on the reasons for this seemingly implausible statistic, an informal survey of carriers suggests it has to do with the fact that many small businesses have a cellphone number as their main line to the outside world.

"A lot of people have one number that services their business and another number for their personal cellphone," said a representative with the carrier FarEastTone.

And though many cellphones can accommodate two lines, users are just as likely to carry two phones.

Given this, Taiwan might also lead the world in the highest number of phones per capita. Time then to take a look at some of the models clipped to local belts and tucked inside local pants' pockets. Another informal survey, this time of cellphone salespeople, suggests that the models most popular among the populace are Motorola phones.

This is casual confirmation of the company's own claim to have nearly one half of the cellphone market in Taiwan, and it's not surprising, given the number of Motorola V505s and V600s you see people fidgeting with on buses or at bars.

The phones have been among the best-selling in Taiwan for packing in a lot of functions for business-centric users and a lot of style options for the fashion conscious.

It has to be said the "domino-effect" plays a great part in the success of these and other models. Good word of mouth moves more quickly than any other kind of review. Word of mouth is also helping to sell Motorola's latest model, the V3.

The V3 owes its design aesthetic to laptop computers, specifically Apple' s Macintosh PowerBooks. Encased in anodized aluminum, it looks much like a Mac in miniature, save that it has a screen on the front that displays a photo of whoever is calling as well as other programmable information.

Open it up to reveal its chemically-etched touchpad, which resembles nothing so much as a computer interface found on the starship Enterprise -- Next Generation, of course. Of all the models currently on the market, it probably induces the most envy.

The V3 is also getting lots of good press, not the least of which was a runner-up award from Wallpaper magazine for gadget of the year (It lost out to Apple's iPod Mini).

Design aside, the V3 has a lot of functionality as well and packs in many features you won't find in other cellphones. But at more than NT$20,000, it better. That price tag has likely kept a lot of the model's good word of mouth to a minimum.

Less expensive, albeit less enviable, is Motorola's E680. It's not a "clamshell" phone and lacks the design savvy of the V3, but it packs features on the same footing with the V3. And, as one of the better-selling smart phones in Taiwan, it presents those features more stunningly than any phone in its class.

The first thing you notice about the E680 is its large screen and lack of a type pad, leading you to think, at a glance, that it's some sort of hand-held video game. In fact, it is a hand-held video game and much more; capable of downloading Quicktime movies, carrying a virtual office, and playing MP3s.

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