Google is only buying Motorola to acquire its patents and protect the Android ecosystem from intellectual-property lawsuits, said Jan Uddenfeldt, chief technology officer of Sony Ericsson. It won't merge the Motorola and Android organizations and give the handset business an inside track, Uddenfeldt said. "The last thing in they would like to happen is to create a vertical. ... that would only destroy the market share for Android."
Asked about the future of feature phones, the less capable and less expensive handsets that preceded smartphones, most of the panelists said there will remain a market for them. While smartphones make up 30 percent to 40 percent of unit sales for ZTE, feature phones still make up about 60 percent, said Lixin Cheng, CEO of ZTE USA. For one thing, they are popular with consumers who prefer a physical keypad to a touchscreen, he said.
ZTE is developing a "feature phone with a smartphone-like experience" that will go on sale from a U.S. carrier before Black Friday, Cheng said. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional first day of the holiday shopping season in the U.S., falling on Nov. 25 this year.
"The so-called feature phone and smartphone is always relative," Cheng said, pointing out that there are phones now in development being called "superphones." "The smartphone today could be a feature phone tomorrow."
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