Motorola's Motofone aimed at mass-market

Motorola's Motofone aimed at mass-market

Motorola launched an entry-level cell phone yesterday (28 November) hoping to make up ground on rival Nokia by selling a large number of the simple handsets, instead of relying on high-priced smartphones.

The company debuted the Motofone F3 in India, planning to roll it out to worldwide markets. The company will focus sales efforts on developing countries to enlist the world's next billion mobile phone users, says Motorola's president of mobile devices division, Ron Garriques.

The value-priced Motofone handset is designed for first-time users, by substituting graphical icons and voice commands for the standard text-based interface. The phone is lightweight and has a plastic screen instead of glass. Battery life is extended by using a monochrome "electronic ink" display.

The F3 version has a global system for mobile communications and says Motorola says a code division multiple access version called Motofone F3c will be out by the end of this year. The company says the phone will cost less than US$50, although specific prices are set by carriers.

Motorola plans to use the product to win business in a different market segment than its high-end Q smartphone and ultra-slim Razr and Krzr cell phones.

Sales of those phones meant Motorola sold 53.7 million handsets in the third-quarter of 2006, an increase of 39 percent over that period last year and a larger gain than the market average. As a whole, worldwide mobile phone sales grew 21.5 percent in the third-quarter, to 251 million units, according to market research firm Gartner.

By launching its Motofone before the end of 2006, Motorola surprised some analysts who had predicted a seasonal slump for the company.

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