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Motorola to unveil 20 new cell phones

Motorola is introducing 20 new cell phones as it tries to avoid slipping to No. 3 in the market.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Motorola Inc., which is introducing 20 new cell phones as it tries to avoid slipping to No. 3 in the market, signaled its confidence Wednesday for strong holiday sales and said there are no further product delays in sight.

The company said its much-hyped new $900 Razr phone is "flying off the shelves" abroad as it nears its U.S. launch.

A year ago, Motorola's holidays were spoiled by a parts shortage and resulting shipment delays that kept some of its first camera phones -- already behind its competitors' -- from being available during the biggest season for cell-phone sales.

Ron Garriques, executive vice president in charge of the company's handset division, assured analysts there won't be a recurrence of those problems in this year's fourth quarter.

"Across all of the technologies and across all of the price tiers, we're expecting very strong holiday sales," he said on a conference call. "We're performing to plan on all of our Q4 product launches. We don't have any delays. There's no component or supply issues."

The star of Motorola's new product portfolio is the pricey Razr V3, a color-screen camera phone which has built-in Bluetooth wireless technology for e-mail and offers video playback and a speakerphone in a half-inch-thick clamshell design.

Garriques, promoted to head Motorola's handset business this fall, said the Razr is "doing extremely well in Asia and Europe, absolutely just flying off the shelves," although he declined to give numbers. The phone is to be launched in the United States this month by Cingular Wireless.

Another popular new camera phone, the V710, offering e-mail capability and a wireless headset, had its shipments to Verizon Wireless halted this fall because of problems with the lens. But the Schaumburg, Ill.-based company says it quickly addressed the glitches and shipped repaired units, never needing to recall the product.

"We tightened the specs, simple as that," Garriques said. "The issue is fixed and it's behind us. Consumer demand for this product is stronger than ever."

Ten of the 20 products targeted for launch this quarter are out and all but a couple will be launched by Christmas, he said.

The new Motorola lineup of phones is by far the most expensive on the market, according to analyst Tero Kuittinen of Sanford Bernstein and Co.

"The big question is can they turn around their market share with these targeted launches, with a cluster of phones that each have a limited audience," he said. "It's a lot riskier strategy than what Motorola had in the first quarter with mass-market phones, the V300 and V500, that were the foundation of their success."

Motorola's share of the global handset market has shrunk from 16.6 percent in the first quarter to 14.2 percent in the third quarter, according to International Data Corp., a Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm. That's further behind No. 1 Nokia Corp. at 31.3 percent and barely ahead of Samsung Electronics Co.'s 13.9 percent for the runner-up spot.

Garriques said Motorola hasn't used price to take market share like its competitors, instead relying more on medium- to high-priced phones. The company's more affordable new C115 and C155 phones should help it make gains in the lower end of the marketplace, he said.

IDC analyst Alex Slawsby said the innovative new products are the result of a more aggressive strategy at Motorola, harkening back to its roots.

"Clearly they are doing a good job of ramping up the new devices to market," he said. "They're certainly still vulnerable to any missteps like they've had in the past. But they're executing well -- they just need to continue to get products to market."