With DROID has Motorola rediscovered its Mojo?

19 Oct 2009

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Hello Mojo … er, come in Mojo … That’s the sound Motorola has been making in recent years as its loosened grasp on all things mobile has allowed usurpers like the Apple iPhone and RIM Blackberry Storm to steal its thunder. Well, Motorola seems to have found its Mojo again.

And the technology world can heave a sigh of relief. Why? Well, because it was unbecoming of a communications technology giant that helped the allies rain fire on its enemies of World War II and brought mobile innovations like the StarTAC and the RAZR to allow itself to be waylaid by newcomers like Apple or tree-logging magnates like Nokia take first place, or players like LG to find pep in their step.

Over 10 years

Over the course of the last decade, there have been many established electronics giants that simply could have wrought much change to mobile, and not just stalwarts like Nokia or Sony-Ericsson. For a while even Mitsubishi had a chance to shine. Siemens eventually bowed out of the mobile-device race and Samsung took many efforts to find its groove.

Until 2006, Motorola stayed in the race with eponymous devices like the RAZR and even a short-lived alliance with Apple and the ROKR phone. But since then it has basked in the wilderness, parking its mobile ambitions, albeit with a few bright shimmers of brilliance, such as the eco-friendly MOTO W233 Renew made almost entirely out of recycled water bottles.

But the big news this week is the Motorola DROID (big letters because it used to be a much-loved Motorola practice to create words that don’t exist and put them in CAPS. Let’s just call it the Droid!)

Motorola, Verizon meet

So, Droid: Over the weekend, Motorola got into bed with Verizon and unveiled the Android-based Droid. In fact, it’s hard to decide who this is bigger news for: Motorola, for bringing out a device opined by some commentators to be a viable competitor for the iPhone, or Google, which now has a flagship device for its Android operating system.

Let’s be magnanimous and say it’s a big occasion for all. Firstly, it features version 2.0 of Android and secondly it uses a Texas Instruments’ OMAP 3430 core – in use by the iPhone and Palm Pre – which outperforms the Qualcom 528Mhz ARM11 core that powers existing Android devices in the market today.

Specs

According to the rumour mill, the Motorola DROID is also thinner than the iPhone (which has been using the same chassis across all three generations) and despite this even sports a slide-out keyboard which in the touchscreen times we live in is still a deal-breaker for users who still want buttons.

Unlike the Star Wars droid R2D2, it doesn’t come with wheels and probably has full-stereo and polyphonic tones than whirring beeps. Then again, because it’s called the DROID it has to come with these sounds.

Since Motorola has rediscovered its Mojo, it may be feeling magnanimous enough to go that far. Here’s hoping Motorola is all that. In my opinion, video-recording capability and anything greater than a 3.2-megapixel camera would also be very welcome.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Motorola has unveiled the Android-based Motorola DROID.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com