Set for success

Motorola outlines its plans for the Middle East region.

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By  Claire Ferris-Lay Published  January 3, 2008

IT comes as no surprise to hear the "Hello Moto" ring-tone at least once from Michael Fenger's Motorola Q. He is after all the new senior vice president, EMEA Mobile Devices Business for Motorola. But Fenger claims it's not just his position that means he uses his all- singing and dancing mobile phone. "I've been a Motorola user for the last ten years, even before I worked for the company. I got used to the flip phone and I've used it ever since. It's my email, web browser, music, video and mobile phone all in one and it's easy to use," he says enthusiastically.

Fenger might think that his mobile phone is easy to use but not everyone does. One journalist recently described the company's designs as "dysfunctional" and its supply chain system only capable of churning out one hit wonders. Fenger is quick to jump to the brand's defence. "Actually that isn't true. We have guys who study this and compare, for example, how long it takes to write a text message on our phones compared to our competitors'. We have spent years simplifying but to be honest I think it's a matter of what you are used to. Right now I am trying to use a Mac computer, having spent years using Microsoft and finding it really difficult to use."

Motorola is known for being at the pinnacle of design, fashion and for the best performance and we will continue to do that. With the RAZR² we have taken an iconic device and taken it up a couple of notches...

In a world where the majority of the population owns some kind of mobile phone and 90 million of those users own a Nokia handset, how does Motorola differentiate itself from its competitors? While Nokia consistently produces a wide range of functional and stylish phones, Motorola is known for its attention to high design. In 1996, it launched the precursor to its hugely popular RAZR, the StarTAC mobile phone.

Described as the first phone to combine design with functionality, the StarTAC flip-phone was the first mobile phone to feature the vibrate option used on the hugely successful Motorola pagers, and allowed users to extend their talk time with a second battery. It was even voted number six in PC World's "50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years."

Then came RAZR. Revered for its design and often referred to as the iPod of mobile phones, the RAZR featured at number 12 on PC World's List. First launched in 2004 - available only with a service agreement - and then to the mass market a year later, the Motorola RAZR line has sold more than 110 million units and took the company to the number two mobile phone slot in 2005 (Nokia remained on top).

The phone was given out in the goodies bags of the 2005 Oscars, Tony Soprano was seen using his RAZR in a number of seasons of The Sopranos, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende uses one and Oprah Winfrey helped launched the Product Red edition with Bono on her talk show.

"Motorola is known for being at the pinnacle of design, fashion and for the best performance and we will continue to do that. With the RAZR² we have taken an iconic device and taken it up a couple of notches. When people think Motorola, they think best design and the best performance - we'll never give that up."

Despite being over three years old Motorola continues to play on the success of the RAZR. Although Fenger is not specifically in town to launch the latest version of the RAZR, the RAZR² V8 Luxury Edition, it is being launched at the same time as our interview. And what better place to launch the latest version, which features an 18k gold-plated finish and soft-touch back, embossed with snake skin texture, other than the top floor of the Burj Al Arab with some of the best views of Dubai?

"It has design, the fastest design processors and is very thin. It also features crystal talk which means if you are in a busy environment it is constantly modifying and filtering out background noise and amplifying the right frequency in the earpiece so you can hear who you are talking to. Consumers want a beautiful phone which also makes calls - we've hit both marks on that device."

For all of the RAZRs sold there are undoubtedly a number of devices that haven't sold in quite the same way but Fenger doesn't dwell on that fact. "It happens all of the time. We're like a movie studio. We think people are going to come and see the movie and love the story. We do the entire consumer testing and think it's the best movie ever but it's hard to launch a blockbuster every time. We didn't push the MOTOROKR line in Europe much but it did tremendously well in other parts of the world. It's amazing how different consumer tastes are."

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