Bloomberg News

Motorola Mobility to Sell Photon 4G Smartphone With Sprint

June 09, 2011

(Updates share prices in last paragraph.)

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. introduced its first so-called fourth-generation smartphone for Sprint Nextel Corp.’s network today, deepening a partnership with the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier to boost sales.

The Photon, which has a 1-gigahertz processor and an 8- megapixel camera, will be available this summer, Sprint Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse said at an event in New York today. It will run on Google Inc.’s Android software like other Motorola smartphones. No price was given.

Motorola and Sprint are teaming up as they look for an edge against larger rivals. Motorola is trying to differentiate itself against Apple Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd., as well as other handset makers that use the Android software such as Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp.

“We have a long-standing relationship with Sprint and we are thrilled to open a new chapter of working together,” Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha said at the event. “We are showing the breadth of this partnership.”

Sprint is facing competition from Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., which is seeking regulatory approval for its proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA Inc. Motorola Mobility, based in Libertyville, Illinois, makes phones for the Droid line at Verizon Wireless and also manufactures the Atrix for AT&T.

Feature Phones

Until now, Sprint has mainly sold Motorola feature phones, or devices that lack sophisticated Web-browsing and e-mail capabilities. Feature phones are usually less profitable since consumers typically pay little or no money for data service, on top of charges for voice calls.

“We used to have a lot of devices on Sprint, primarily on the push-to-talk network,” said Jha in an interview. For “4G phones to go up in sales, that’s very important for us.”

Android’s share of U.S. smartphone subscribers jumped 5.2 percentage points to 36.4 percent in April from three months earlier, according to ComScore Inc., making it the fastest growing smartphone platform.

Hesse also unveiled the Motorola Triumph, which will be available with the Sprint’s Virgin Mobile brand for prepaid customers. Sprint and Motorola will release at least 10 new phones together in 2011, he said.

Motorola fell 66 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $23.36 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kansas, climbed 7 cents to $5.41.

--Editors: Peter Elstrom, Ville Heiskanen

To contact the reporters on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net; Greg Bensinger in New York at gbensinger1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net


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