NEW YORK (AP) – Seeking to reverse a financial tailspin, Motorola Inc. is revamping the Razr cell phone that has defined the company’s rise and fall of the past few years.
The Razr 2 was unveiled Tuesday with a number of upgrades to other top-line handsets. Executives stressed that the best path to success was to add features and improve performance with more robust software and hardware within an already stylish device.
The challenge after the slender Razr, nearly 100 million of which have been sold, was ”What’s after thin? How thin can you take it? What’s next with form?” said Ed Zander, the embattled chief executive who recently fended off a proxy fight by Carl Icahn.
The answer, Motorola has apparently decided, is another Razr rather than a completely new device.
”This is a brand that we will continue to market for many years to come,” said Zander. ”We wanted to keep what people loved about Razr. We wanted to make it slimmer, but make it more stunning.”
To that end, the Razr 2 features big jumps in processor speed and screen brightness, both of which are 10 times greater compared with the original Razr. The company also has added a 2-inch display to the outside of the Razr 2, calling it the biggest external screen on a flip phone.
The user interface, an attribute often criticized with the original Razr, has been completely redesigned for easier access to the assorted multimedia functions. The company also is adding a newly developed technology called Crystal Talk to improve phone call quality, which Zander said remains the most basic function of a cell phone.
The Razr 2 will be introduced in Asia during July, and elsewhere later in the summer. The company did not name the cell phone companies that would be featuring the device, which will come in versions compatible with the two leading wireless technologies.
Despite all the focus on the Razr 2’s innards, the device is in fact 0.08 inches thinner than the original Razrs.
Motorola also announced the availability of a new handset, the Moto Z8, and a new version of the Q smart phone with a full keyboard. Both the Z8 and the Q9 were first unveiled in February at a trade show in Barcelona.
The Z8, which company executives refer to as the ”media monster,” will launch in June in Europe. The handset, a slider, has generated some buzz with a unique design feature: When the screen slides up to reveal the keypad for a call, the phone bends slightly to sit more comfortably against the face – like a clamshell handset.
The Q9 is going on sale immediately in Italy and will reach other markets around the world over the summer.
Thanks to the popularity of the original Razr, Motorola had been on a two-year hot streak. Then it aggressively cut prices of Razrs and other high-end phones, especially in emerging markets, to boost market share. Profits dropped steeply.
Last month, the company posted its first quarterly loss since 2004 and Motorola has lost about one-third of its market value since October.
Shares of Motorola fell 22 cents, or 1.2 percent to $17.94.