AT&T can no longer brandish the iPhone as the flagship smartphone exclusive to its network – a luxury it enjoyed since June 2007. The company’s new muse? The Android-powered Motorola Atrix 4G.
“To attract new customers, AT&T Mobility Chief Executive Ralph de la Vega said the forthcoming Motorola Atrix 4G will be the carrier’s leading device in its portfolio,” wrote Shayndi Raice of the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 3). For marketing, de la Vega said his company would spend a similar amount to what was spent on campaigns for the iPhone or its previous hit phone, the Motorola Razr.
The Atrix 4G was the most talked-about new device at the 2011 CES, since the phone is so powerful (it has an Nvidia dual-core processor) that it can easily snap into a laptop dock* and function like a notebook (see CES Highlights).
On Thursday (Feb. 3), AT&T, the second-largest carrier in the U.S., announced it will begin selling the Atrix 4G on March 6 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, Raice writes. Presales will begin Feb. 13.
It’s an interesting twist, considering Verizon’s affinity to the Motorola Droid in Fall 2009, back when AT&T was the only U.S. carrier offering the iPhone. “But as Verizon pushes the iPhone hard, AT&T sees an opportunity to get closer to Motorola Mobility,” Raice adds. “Under Chief Executive Sanjay Jha, Motorola Mobility has revived its cellphone business by betting exclusively on Google’s software and Verizon Wireless’ need for a competitor to the iPhone.”
*Raice reports that the docking feature of the Atrix 4G targets business customers who travel. “AT&T will offer business customers the same subsidies as it does for its other enterprise devices like BlackBerry.”
“The Laptop Dock bundle will cost $499.99 with a two-year service contract, after $100 mail-in rebate, and with required $45/month 4GB data plan with mobile hot spot service and tethering, which is needed to use the laptop’s Mozilla browser to access the web via cellular,” wrote Joseph Palenchar of TWICE (Feb. 3). “The Laptop Dock will also be available outside the bundle at $499.99.”
A second docking solution, Palenchar adds, the Motorola HD Multimedia Dock, connects with the Atrix 4G via Bluetooth to a keyboard and mouse and via HDMI to an HDTV. It will retail for 189.99 with included remote. “Both docks enable a large-screen display of stored HD video and Mozilla’s Firefox web browser.”