Motorola: Future Atrix devices as 'Android alternative'

Motorola will bring out more devices based around the Atrix 4G smartphone-laptop convergence theme, the company's CEO said.

Future versions of Motorola's Atrix smartphone-laptop combo will be rolled out as Android "alternatives" to tablets and other newfangled devices, Motorola's chief executive said this week.

The phone maker's first crack at the Atrix smartphone-laptop convergence wasn't perfect. CNET Reviews said the lack of Google's Chrome operating system hurts (Atrix uses a FireFox-centric "Webtop" operating environment). And performance in the laptop configuration (i.e., the 'lap-dock") is sluggish.

Motorola Atrix 4G in laptop dock. Atrix smartphone is docked behind the laptop's screen. The laptop is essentially a keyboard, touchpad, speakers, ports, and battery--all powered by the Atrix 4G smartphone'ss silicon.
Motorola Atrix 4G in laptop dock. Atrix smartphone is docked behind the laptop's screen. The laptop is essentially a keyboard, touchpad, speakers, ports, and battery--all powered by the Atrix 4G smartphone's silicon. CNET Reviews
Motorola Atrix 4G lap-dock and original iPad.
Motorola Atrix 4G lap-dock and original iPad. CNET Reviews

But that doesn't mean it's toast, considering all of the praise the Atrix 4G and laptop dock received at CES 2011.

Sanjay Jha, chairman and chief executive officer of Motorola Mobility, said Thursday there's a lot more to come for Atrix, stating that the device is an "alternative" way of merging mobility (smartphones) and computing (PCs). Code for an alternative to the iPad and other devices that straddle the space between those two established markets.

"In the Android ecosystem, there is a need for us to differentiate," Jha said. "[With] Atrix devices with the Webtop and lap-dock we really think there is an alternative way of viewing the convergence between mobility and computing. And we will continue to focus on that," he said during the earnings conference call, responding to an analyst's question.

Jha continued. "You will see multiple devices from us in the second half...and we will expand the range of our lap-dock devices so we cover a broader price point, addressing both enterprise tiers as well as more consumer tiers."

One intriguing possibility is basing a future Motorola phone on a quad-core processor that when plugged into the laptop dock would provide performance that's a lot closer to a true laptop than current Atrix products.

And this presents broader market potential. For instance, a class of high-end smartphones packing high-performance processors (from Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm) that plug into ultraportable laptop shells.

No, the laptop isn't dead but some interesting variations on the traditional theme are probably in the cards.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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