It’s no secret that Google Inc’s (GOOG) initial forays into hardware have not been successful. The company’s high profile $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility in May 2011 has been an unmitigated financial disaster for the tech giant so far. The company immediately started laying off employees, shedding 20 percent of its workforce, and the division has yet to post a profit, losing $271 million in the first quarter of 2013 and $342 million in the second.
It’s all been building up to Google's first real challenge to the iPhone produced by rival Apple Inc. (AAPL) and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Google first hinted in May that they'd be making an aggressive play in the high-end smartphone market with a new product. On Aug. 1 Motorola debuted that product, the Moto X. And for the struggling hardware division, the Moto X - the first phone produced entirely under Google's direction - is a make-or-break product.
For a company looking to take a bite of Apple and Samsung’s market share, the company is going to have to differentiate. Superficially, they're defitniely doing that - the Moto X will be offered in several diferent colors (unlike the monochromatic iPhone.) The phone will be curved to fit a human hand, and it touts an impressive, though not groundbreaking, 24-hour battery life.
But it seems that what Google settled on for really getting the Moto X to stand apart is making the smartphone-user experience even easier. Here are the features the Moto X promises, in that regard:
- The camera activates with a flick of the wrist.
Assuming that people often need to snap their pictures that second, the Moto X can be activated by simply whipping the phone out and flicking it twice.
Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside claims the average time to get a phone out and click the camera on is eight seconds. He said, “the challenge to the (design) team was, ‘How do you get that down to one or two seconds. We think we’ve gotten that down to about 1.8 seconds.”
- The microphone is always on
The phone then can be awoken with a simple voice command. Similar to the picture feature, the phone is awoken even by the act of picking it up from a table or pulling it out of a pocket. For instance, Google can be enabled by simply saying ‘OK Google.”
- Just moving the phone will wake it up
Similar to the picture feature, the phone is awoken even by the act of picking it up from a table or pulling it out a pocket. Exapnding on this concept even further, the screen doesn’t even need to be woken up to share information. Alerts such as messages and missed calls will appear on the lock screen whenever the phone is turned on.
The phone will go on sale in late August or possible early September for around $199 with contract, available on all five major US carriers. The Moto X will only be available initially in the US.
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