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Motorola could make Mac-clone mania next year

Motorola makes a splash into the Macintosh-compatible computer market, but the most dazzling Motorola offerings may not materialize until next year.

Motorola (MOT) made a splash Tuesday with its entry into the Macintosh-compatible computer market, but the most dazzling Motorola offerings may not materialize until next year when the company is expected to ship notebooks and possibly consumer-market Mac compatibles as well.

Both Motorola executives and analysts feel that Motorola has yet to leverage one the company's greatest strengths: portable devices.

"Portables will come. Once the PowerPC Reference Platform is established [in 1997] and once the desktop [line of computers] is in place, one could envision a portable [Mac-compatible computer]," said Joe Guglielmi, corporate vice president and general manager at the Motorola Computer Group (MCG).

Motorola's expertise in a wide range of ultra-portable devices including cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and pagers, coupled with Apple's sagging fortunes in notebooks, make the prospect of a Motorola Mac-compatible notebook extremely attractive, said Pieter Hartsook, editor of the The Hartsook Letter.

"Apple has fallen way behind [in notebooks] and Motorola is very strong in this technology," he said.

Motorola will also wait until next year when the company is in a position to build lower-cost PCs to make a push into the consumer-specific computer market, Guglielmi added. Motorola wants to take advantages of the economies of scale which the Power PC Reference Platform is expected to offer next year when computers begin to ship based on this set of specifications.

He also said that "we want users to have a stellar out-of-box experience," and it's best to wait until later when this can be assured since the new line is only Motorola's first round of offerings.

Historically, consumers have had negative out-of-box experiences with PCs since set-up and configuration has often been difficult and time-consuming.