|Q Questions |
Does Motorola look smart?
Motorola's ( MOT) missing Q phone is starting to raise some questions. Industry observers have been expecting a big splash from Motorola at the CTIA wireless industry show in Las Vegas next week. The stage was set for an announcement that Verizon Wireless -- a joint venture of Verizon ( VZ) and Vodafone ( VOD) -- has stocked its shelves with Q phones. But now, Verizon Wireless says the Q isn't ready. And although phone delays are far from rare, the Q's absence stands to add to an already long list of product problems for Motorola this year. Motorola didn't reply to a request for comment. Unlike market share leader Nokia ( NOK), whose sales are spread
across the globe and over dozens of models, Motorola's fortunes ride on the success of the iconic Razr phone. But ever since the Razr rose to blockbuster success, investors have been waiting for another model to extend the No. 2 handset maker's winning streak. The Q phone, often called RazrBerry, had captured the eye of gadget fans looking for the next big thing. The smartphone is designed to rival top-tier models like Research In Motion's ( RIMM) BlackBerry and the popular Treo from Palm ( PALM). At less than a half-inch thick with a full Qwerty-style keyboard and a Windows Mobile 5 operating system, the Q phone was expected to deliver the sleekness of the Razr and the functionality of a PDA. Even more, the Q handles email, Web browsing, Bluetooth, music, a camera and Verizon Wireless' fast Net connection called EV-DO.
When Motorola announced the product last summer, the company targeted the first quarter ending Friday as the availability date. But Motorola has been plagued by stumbles getting new products out of the gate recently, and a delay of the Q phone isn't going to help matters.
In January, the company blamed supply constraints for delays of its three biggest handset introductions at the end of last year. And phone fashion watchers haven't exactly been dazzled by the sleek rounded Pebl, which was expected to be a hit with big spenders. Tellingly, Motorola quickly offered a variety of
colors to help juice Pebl sales. And earlier this month, big wireless service providers Cingular and T-Mobile halted sales of the world's most popular cell phone after customers discovered a malfunction that caused calls to be lost. The Schaumburg, Ill., wireless tech titan seems to have sidestepped any serious trouble with the Razr glitch, saying it dodged any financial impact from the ordeal. With most of its blunders thought to be behind it, investors helped push the stock out of the rut it hit earlier in the year. Motorola shares rose 34 cents to $23.11 Thursday, up about 2% for the year.