Motorola Q offers new take on mobile email

I talked about the sea-change in Motorola’s design approach a few days ago and hinted the DNA of RAZR, its flagship clamshell, was soon to be seen throughout the MOTO range. Yesterday the company officially unveilved ‘Q’, a Windows Mobile smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard and many of RAZR’s design attributes.

Q boasts a much higher specification than RAZR, including a 1.3 megapixel camera. Motorola has not yet made public the processor and memory configuration of the device, but it will obviously require a powerful ARM-based smartphone chip and at least 64 Mb of memory to run the latest 5.0 version of Windows Mobile.

When the handset ships in Q1 2006, it will join a new category of devices which endeavour to extend typical business functions to high-end consumers through stylish design. Siemens SK65, the Blackberry-enabled device which swivels open to reveal a QWERTY keyboard in ‘cross’ formation, is another example of this trend. It’s refreshing to see manufacturers realising that ‘business’ functionality doesn’t automatically mean style should be thrown out of the window.

I know a significant number of users – many of whom actually work in the mobile telecoms industry – who swap their SIM card out of their ‘business’ handset and into a separate device for evenings and weekends because the design of their day-to-day phone is so clunky. Slim, lightweight and attractive, Motorola’s Q will be just as comfortable in the boardroom as it is in a bar.

Just like Nokia a few weeks ago, Motorola used its annual analyst presentation to emphasise its focus on design as a key differentiator. In another example, Moto is working with Oakley to manufacture sunglasses with a integrated Bluetooth voice headset. It is an interesting experiment, further blurring the lines between fashion and technology, even if its contribution to the overall improvement of user experience is negligible.

Motorola definitely needs to be aware of the difference between eye-catching design and good design. While RAZR has brought a lot of new customers to the Motorola brand, there are still rather too many users who bemoan the complexity of simple functions like texting and contact management on the very same device.

Flashy looks will get you noticed, but you better make sure the overall experience adds up otherwise customers will soon move on. Blackberrys may look like the ugly sister next to Motorola’s model Q, but their user experience is still very beautiful and that’s what maintains a customer relationship in the long-term.

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