Motorola's RAZRi launch is interesting - but not because of the phone

Motorola's RAZRi launch is interesting - but not because of the phone

Summary: Motorola's newest addition to the RAZR family could mark a more concerted assault on the UK market. At the same time, it's Intel's first 'big name' handset to be announced for the UK without explicit operator support, marking a shift in strategy for the chipmaker.


Motorola unveiled the RAZRi smartphone in London on Tuesday. The launch was notable for two reasons — neither of which was the phone itself.

Motorola RAZR i
The Motorola RAZRi is a pretty standard top-end handset. But what does its release say about Motorola and Intel's tactics? Image: Ben Woods

Aside from its 2GHz Intel processor, the RAZRi is fairly unremarkable, with a spec sheet that reads as you'd expect: decent connectivity, microSD expansion, 8-megapixel camera, Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS. Essentially, the RAZRi has all the staples common at the high end of the smartphone world.

READ THIS: Photos: Motorola unveils 2GHz Intel-powered RAZRi

What is more notable is where Motorola will be launching the device. At the launch there was no hint that the phone would head to the US — Motorola's home country and the market in which it does best. Instead, it is planning to launch the RAZRi in specific European territories and Latin America.

Perhaps it is less surprising that Motorola chose to take the RAZRi outside the US given the handset company now belongs to Google. Its new owner has a more global reach than Motorola currently enjoys, and Google may just be looking to try new tactics. Motorola's lack of success in the UK with its last few handset releases might also have been a catalyst for a more concerted effort in Western Europe.

The Intel angle

The RAZRi launch is also the second prong of Intel's strategy for making a splash in the mobile market.

Intel's first handset, the Orange San Diego, was (as its name implies) launched with the support of a well-established UK operator rather than a handset maker. This second device, however, is clearly manufacturer first, operator second.

The reason for this is that Intel essentially offers two different options. On the one hand, it can supply a 95-percent ready-to-go device that can be tweaked and taken to market with the minimum of input, Sumeet Syal, director of marketing for the Atom team at Intel, told ZDNet — as was the case with the San Diego.

Alternatively, if they prefer, companies can take the chip expertise from Intel and design the hardware and specific parts of the software itself — as Motorola did.

Whether or not their respective changes of tactics will work for Motorola and Intel remains to be seen. And, while the RAZRi probably won't set Western Europe alight — given its strong competition from HTC, Nokia and Apple in the region — it could sell well enough to mark the start of Intel making greater inroads in the mobile market.

Topics: Smartphones, Google, Intel, Mobility

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Apple is still the leader of innovation -- new iPhone proves it.

    A 2GHz Intel processor.  
    A 4.3 "edge to edge" Gorilla Glass display.
    Waterproof coating.
    An 8MP camera that can shoot 10 photos in less than a second. 
    The NFC chip. 
    And all this innovation not coming from Apple? 
    How could it be?
    No matter. 
    The iPhone is still the best.  Why else would Apple have sold 2 million of them last week, in less than 24 hours?
    And why else would Apple be gearing up to sell 50 million more by year's end?
    It's because the iPhone is still the best. 
    • Hm

      Are you alright? You dont seem to be so?
    • I guess you'd think so ...

      Which probably explains why you listen exclusively to Rihanna's music etc ... as only the most popular could possible be the best ay!
    • It's what you think...

      Perception is reality.
      Sounds like you can't even understand why Apple sold 2M units.
      Perception is reality.
      Apple has invested in marketing and media control like no other.
      Perception is reality.

      Remember the Lincoln Continental?
      In the 1980's, it was a "luxury car", having features like power windows and cruise control.
      By the 2000's, it was laughable, as even the cheapest cars on the market had those.
      But if you asked people in the 2000's what the Lincoln Continental was, they would still say "a luxury car".

      Sometimes times change, but perception stays the same.
      Perception is reality.

      Does it make sense yet why Apple would have sold 2M units yet?
      • nice

        nice analogy with the whole town car.
    • Iphone proves that they innovated nothing.

      1: 2Ghz Intel chip (name says it all)
      2: Gorilla Glass, Dow Corning
      3: 8MP camera "sure they invented that NOT!!!!"
      4: NFC Chip Try the Nokia 6131 "they had it 1st"
      5: IOS "Oops my bad lets call it Beos which is the origin for all things Apple OS oriented.

      So do they mash other really good ideas together "yes" is that invention, or innovation NO....
      • Sorry, couldn't resist...

        Okay normally the "my phone's bigger than your phone" arguments both irritate (due to the pointlessness of conversation) and entertain me (see previous explanation). However this was too big an opportunity for education that I couldn't resist appending my tuppence.

        Firstly, I do understand your point, iPhone development has not kept up with the competition advance and over the last 12 months the android OS and the other device manufacturers have brought not only phones that are equal for the first time, but better specked and designed than Apple's offering. Now design is personal taste, but until a year ago it seemed that any iRival that beat the iPhone in one area was pretty dreadful in another, with the iPhone being the device to go for when taking an average across the board.

        However as I say, that has changed now. The competition have caught apple in all areas and nothing but personal preference comes into phone choice now; there is not enough difference left to choose otherwise; the fact that we even hype nfc is a case in point.

        Now the fact that the iPhone innovation has slowed (particulalry with this form factor tweak) whilst other manufacturers accelerate their advancements does not detract from the technological achievement of the first iPhone.

        To address your points, you are quite correct in that for early iPhones, camera was not that important; back in '07 Sony had this market exclusively cornered and actively sold phones based on the fact that they could not only hit levels like 5mp, but actually incorperated the concept of quality lenses; most phones still used a 1.3 or 2mp camera, that were rarely any good. The cybershot phones could be actively used as cameras. The original iphone did bring a 2mp camera to market.

        You are also quite correct about the gorilla glass not being invented by apple, but it was sought out by them. Originally designed in the 60's, the inventors found no buyers due to the pricetag. When apple found plastic covers scratched easily on prototypes (as had been used by previous touch screens) they sought out the glass and argued for it to be put into production for the first iPhone.

        As for NFC, well i first encountered that on a trip to hong kong around the turn of the centuary - the octupus transport card. We also got it in our security passes during my last year at university, and when I returned to London following university they had Dopted the same mass transit cards as hong kong. This one I don't see as a relevent technology yet; nobody has come up with a practicle implementation of the tech in a handset yet; if you want NFC in your iPhone at the moment, just buy a chip sticker online for pennies and stick it in your phone case. But I digress... This was about the original.

        To that end, we can't comment on intel chips in phones, as this moto is exactly the second device to try it, and the first with this chip. We also have no real world proof of 2ghz single core x86 vs dual core 1ghz arm... Yet; we soon will, but with such different architectures, who knows? Since '06, cores have meant more than clock speed, but we'll soon get a better feel.

        Finally there's my main point; BeOS? This I don't get. I mean they just aren't related. BeOS competed quite heavily with Mac system software through the 90's, and was briefly considered for purchase by the then struggling apple as they looked for a base from which to develop a replacement to System. However they famously bought Steve Jobs' Next computer company and used Open(next)step as the base for Mac OS 10. The project created darwin that forms the basis of both Mac OS and iOS, though they are close enough related for it to be fair to say that iPhones do run a form of Mac OS. The formation of Mac OS X, combined the features of both previous mac operating systems and next's BSD derived system.

        As for BeOS and Apple, it ended there. There's been some confusion surrounding palm, but this was unrelated - palm bought patents from BeOS for it's PDA software, and Apple did licence tech from Palm. However, this was handwriting software for the Apple's Newton back in '92; nearly a decade before palm and be's relationship. Many of Apple's iOS charicteristics can be traced back to those early newtons.

        The point is that they have made not only iconic devices, but market changing devices; again ipad, macbook air, retina mac, ipod touch, and they do deserve some respect for that innocation.

        That said they often don't keep it up- create something great and cash in on it; so far this year, the retina is the only new product, the rest are tweaks.

        This doesn't mean that other companies don't innovate, as I say I've had 3 iPhones and two iPads, however, the last device I bought was my nexus 7, the next will be a phone... Which one I just can't say, but in a sentance I've not uttered since '02 the early contenders are Nokia and Motorola - credit where it's due these two are really impressing me with the innovation lately. Same with the tablets... Didn't that surface pro announcement just make you question what everyone else had been upto? Now to see if they can pull it off.
    • It's a 4" screen, not 4.3".

      Just fail, fail, Fail, FAil, FAIL, FAAAIIILLLL, all over your post.
  • Dream World

    Still living in an Apple dream world as I said before NOW the Fun begins what Apple started others will take to a new level there are some real surprises coming from Microsoft, Nokia, and Samsung not to mention Android did I say Google?