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Motorola touts its new `Q' device

NIFTY GIZMO The US company is hoping that its handheld device, which replaces many of the PC's functions in a more portable form, will be snatched up by consumers

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A video clip of singer Christina Aguilera is played on a new Motorola device, the Moto Q, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Motorola Inc chief executive officer Ed Zander leaves his laptop behind for overnight trips and says he spends 30 percent less time on the computer a week than he once did. To make his company's next mobile phone a success, he's betting more people will follow suit.

Motorola, the world's No. 2 handset maker, plans to introduce the Q this quarter. Q, a competitor to Palm Inc's Treo, has a slim design with a full keyboard, software from Microsoft Corp and high-speed Internet access.

The features make it possible to replace many of the personal computer's most important functions, Zander said in an interview.

"It's your PC," Zander said of the Q phone at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday. "Over the next five years, these devices are going to begin to take part of the time out of the total usage of the PC."

Zander's remarks underscore a shift in the industry, where the lines between the phone, PC and consumer electronics markets have blurred as people seek to play music and videos from a range of devices that all work together. Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola, which also makes TV set-top boxes, faces new competition from Intel Corp's Viiv chips that aim to replace those boxes with PCs in the living room.

"So many technologies are in transition," said Albert Lin, an analyst at American Technology Research in San Francisco who rates Motorola shares "buy." "One thing is for sure, all the different solutions proposed will not be successful. It's unlikely you'll give up a laptop."

Motorola shares rose US$0.82 to US$24.34 on Friday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They added 31 percent last year.

Zander, 58, said the key to cracking both the mobile and home entertainment markets will be simplicity. He cited Cupertino, California-based Apple Computer Inc and its iPod music player as an example of a company that figured out how to make a product win by being easy to use.

PC makers won't win customers in consumer electronics unless they avoid some of the early problems with computers, such as crashing systems, he said.

"That model of complexity -- reboot, viruses, just the inherent overhead of that thing -- isn't going to win," Zander said. "Whoever wins this thing is going to make it as easy as plugging into a socket for electricity."

Motorola's share of the handset market rose to 18.8 percent in the third quarter from 13.5 percent a year earlier, according to Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc. Espoo, Finland-based Nokia Oyj's share rose to 32.6 percent from 31 percent. Gartner estimates that 810 million handsets were sold last year.

To expand on Motorola's success with new phones such as the metal Razr model, Zander is touting more video, audio and better Internet access.

Zander announced agreements at the show this week with Mountain View, California-based Google Inc, operator of the biggest Internet search engine, and Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo Inc, which runs the most-visited Web site. The deals will make accessing their services easier on Motorola phones.

He unveiled a pact with Rochester, New York-based Eastman Kodak Co to work on technology that makes it easier to download, print and organize digital photos taken with camera phones.

"We've had a lot of good success bringing cool products to the market," Zander said. "The next generation is about cool experiences."

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