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IDG News Service - Motorola introduced the Droid Pro, an Android smartphone aimed at the BlackBerry market, along with several other Android handsets, at a Tuesday evening event in San Francisco.
With the Droid Pro, which is due to come out on Verizon Wireless next month, Motorola built in features designed to appeal to enterprise IT departments. Business users are open to giving up their BlackBerry devices if there is an alternative that meets their requirements, said Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility, as he introduced the phone. Motorola's event took place as this week's CTIA Enterprise & Applications event got under way in San Francisco.
The Droid Pro features a built-in QWERTY keypad and a 3.1-inch touchscreen as well as a 5-megapixel camera. It allows users to both read and edit Microsoft Office documents. If the device is lost or stolen, an administrator can remotely wipe the data from both the phone and the removable MicroSD card in the phone. In the first quarter, Motorola will add the ability to encrypt all the data on the phone and the MicroSD card. In addition, administrators can mandate complex passwords and require regular password changes.
The phone is also designed for business travel, with radios for both CDMA and GSM networks, including their 3G variants. It runs the Android 2.2 operating system, also known as Froyo.
The Droid Pro may not quite displace BlackBerrys in large enterprises, but it is a step in the right direction, especially with its security features, said analyst Avi Greengart of Current Analysis, who attended the event. One missing piece it should have is the ability to track changes in Office documents, he said.
Motorola featured several other Android handsets designed for consumers at the event. The company did well to get into Android early when it launched both the original Droid and the Cliq approximately a year ago, Greengart said, but the company now faces stiffer competition. Introducing a wide range of devices based on the hot mobile platform is a good strategy for the company, he said.
"Motorola is bringing Android-based smartphones to all consumers," Jha said.
Jha hailed tiered data plans as one factor that will help to drive consumers' rapid embrace of smartphones. These plans, like ones introduced earlier this year by AT&T with the Apple iPad tablet, provide a range of plan prices with limited amounts of data allowed per month. These keep average consumers from having to shoulder the cost of the most active subscribers' heavy data use, making the cost of a data plan more palatable, he said.
"That will drive the democratization of wireless broadband access," Jha said. Critics have said tiered plans could inhibit subscribers' mobile Internet use and the development of new mobile applications.
As Android smartphones proliferate, they are falling in price and coming within reach of more consumers. On Tuesday, prepaid U.S. carrier Cricket announced the Ascend, a handset from Huawei Technologies that will go on sale this month for US$149 without a contract.