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10/20/2008
02:09 PM
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Motorola Working On Android Smartphone

The company's first crack at Google's operating system is expected to feature strong social networking features, but it may not debut until the second quarter of 2009.

With the first commercial Android handset days away from its official launch, Motorola is reportedly prepping its own Android phone.

The unnamed Android-powered smartphone from Motorola will be like HTC's G1 in that it sports a touch screen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard, according to BusinessWeek. But the Motorola Android smartphone is expected to cost around $150 and will reportedly feature heavy social network integration.

While it hasn't been confirmed, more than likely this means the handset will have information from a user's Facebook and MySpace contacts integrated into the address books without having to launch a separate application. Adding credence to the report, Motorola even had a job posting on Monster.com, now removed, looking for software engineers for an Android "social smartphone."

Motorola is pouring more than $50 million into the Android project, which will probably lead to multiple handsets in the future. BusinessWeek said the company's social smartphone may not be released until the second quarter of next year.

Motorola is the world's third-largest cell phone manufacturer, but the cell phone division has lost more than $1.9 billion since 2007. The company is still struggling to find another hit like the Razr, which sold more than 110 million units worldwide. A recent NPD Group report found the Razr was the top-selling U.S. handset, but it's often given away for free with a new two-year contract, and it's no longer a high-margin device for Motorola.

The company recently brought in Sanjay Jha to head its mobile devices business, and Jha is reportedly a big proponent of Android and the Open Handset Alliance.

While much attention will be paid to the G1, Google's goals for Android go further than a single handset. In order for the open source platform to get widespread adoption, it will need multiple handsets from various manufacturers that can work on multiple carriers.

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