All Motorola high-end phones will pair with dock, CEO says

The Atrix, due out later this week, will be only the first

All of Motorola's high-end smartphones will soon be able to work with a docking station that provides them with a large screen and keyboard when needed, the company's CEO said Monday.

Motorola earlier this year introduced the Atrix, an Android phone that will be available from AT&T starting on Sunday. The Atrix can be connected to a docking station that looks like a laptop but has no CPU, providing users with the screen and keyboard.

"You will see this across our portfolio of high-tier smartphones," Sanjay Jha, Motorola's CEO, said on Monday during a Morgan Stanley conference. From the second half of the year on, those high-end phones will have Motorola's "webtop" application that lets the phones pair with the docking station.

"What we're trying to do is recognize that the smartphone really works extremely well for 80 percent of the time but sometimes you need a bigger display and a larger keyboard," he said.

The memory and processing speeds available with today's phones make it possible to run applications on the larger form factor of the docking station, he said.

Motorola won't be the first to pair a phone with a stripped-down laptop. Palm once announced a similar concept, called the Folio, but scuttled it before launch.

Jha also said that Motorola plans to release additional tablets, in different sizes, by the end of the year. Its first, the Xoom, became available last week and has a 10.1-inch screen. Future tablets from Motorola might have 7-inch or other size screens, he said at the Morgan Stanley event, which was webcast.

Jha also hinted that Google employees might be getting Xoom tablets.

He said he expects tough competition from Nokia when it comes out with Windows phones, but a lag while it ramps up presents opportunity. "You can't switch over instantly the whole culture of the place and the ecosystem," said Jha, who led his company through a transition from supporting many operating systems to using just one. "It may be wishful thinking, but it feels like this major change will create a market opportunity not just for ourselves but for others."

"When they do come, I think they will come out with a much better solution, so I feel like we have to work very hard in a short period of time if there is an opportunity to take advantage of," he said.

Motorola continues its transition as well. "I'm trying to change the culture at Motorola to be a much more software-centric culture," he said. That's how Motorola expects to compete against other companies that are also using Google's Android software.

"The hardware is important, you have to get it right. But at the end of the day the differentiation has to be in software," he said.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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