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Moto G Marks Google's Gamble for Global Value

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Dennis Woodside, chief executive of Google's  (GOOG) Motorola unit was in Sao Paulo Wednesday to announce the group's second smartphone, the Moto G, a second-tier model designed and priced to trounce rivals' lower-priced smartphones.

Motorola CEO Woodside told the gathered audience in Sao Paulo that users looking for a low-priced smartphone previously had just two choices: buy a cheap new smartphone with a small (3.5-inch on average) screen and ancient technology, or purchase a 2-3 year old handset that's been gathering dust on a warehouse shelf.

The Moto G was created to bring current smartphone technologies to cost-conscious customers around the world at an appealing price. Woodside boasted the new phone could compete in a number of ways with top-line models including the Apple (AAPL) iPhone 5s.

The G will sport a 4.5-inch HD touchscreen capable of 720p video playback, a quad-core, 1.2 GHz Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 400 processor, 1 GB of RAM, day long battery life (especially on the world's popular 3G networks) and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean - with an upgrade to 4.4 KitKat by January. The G has colorful, removable back covers (a la Nokia (NOK)) with matching accessories as well.

The size and pixel density (329 PPI) of the Moto G's screen (versus the iPhone 5s) s just one way that Motorola said the phone beats the competition.

The company failed to mention the size of the camera or the amount of memory inside the G. Both are expensive parts for a budget smartphone. Cameras are 5 megapixels on the back and 1.2 MP up front. Memory choices are 8 GB and 16 GB exactly half of what's offered on the Moto X).

Motorola has aggressively priced the new phone: $179 for model with 8 GB of storage and $199 with 16 GB. These prices are what the phone will cost on its Website. Actual prices for the phone may vary depending on the country and carrier.

Moto stressed those prices its charging for the new phone are "no contract" and no strings attached. That's the way phones are sold in most world. Markets. With price still the major concern for many potential customers even $179-$199 for a technologically superior phone may be too high for shoppers seeking devices which sell for $99 or less.

Motorola knows just how tough the current marketplace can be. Despite all the publicity and praise its top-of-the-line Moto X phone's initial sales have reportedly been disappointing. Current numbers are rumored as only 500,000 Moto X phones being purchased since launch. At today's press event, Motorola saie sales in the model's first 83 days of life were good and actually spiked a few days ago as soon as the Moto Maker store began offering handsets on all four major U.S. carriers.

The Moto G will begin its global rollout this month in a number of markets. United States models are expected to ship just after the first of the year.

Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

To submit a news tip, send an email to tips@thestreet.com.

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