Motorola on Thursday unveiled a new smartphone that consumers can personalize with a choice of colors and materials, hoping to stand out in a crowded market and justify the $12.5 billion that Google Inc paid for the ailing handset maker.
The highly anticipated "Moto X" marks the cellphone maker's first flagship device since Google bought the company in 2012, and is its latest attempt to break into a smartphone market dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.
The phone's customization options are a novel touch which may appeal to fashionistas, analysts said. But some analysts questioned whether the Moto X offers the kind of technological breakthroughs that will vault Motorola back into the top rungs of the mobile rankings.
"We would have expected magic from somebody like Google, and this is not magic," Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics, said.
"Motorola could have done this without Google equally well. Or for that matter, another hardware manufacturer not owned by Google could have made this phone," he said, citing the phone's average hardware specifications.
The Moto X will go on sale in the United States at the end of August or the beginning of September for a suggested retail price of $199.99 to customers who sign a two-year contract at five of the biggest U.S. mobile network operators.
Google faces a steep climb in its effort to revive Motorola, which once claimed the No. 2 spot in the global phone market but according to research firm Strategy Analytics now commands a mere 2 percent market share. Shut out of the Apple-Samsung battle, Motorola competes with other smaller players such as HTC, Nokia and BlackBerry.
Motorola is betting that it can win over consumers by offering a huge palette of colors to personalize their phones, as well as unusual phone materials such as wood.
"They're not playing the 'mine is bigger than yours game,'" Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis, said. "Their approach is that this is what consumers actually need.
"I have no doubt there are people who want to customize their phones. The question is how many of them," Greengart added.
AT&T Inc, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service provider, will have exclusive rights to let its customers customize the phone from a selection of 18 colors for the back, two for