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Garriques Sketches His ‘Liquid Media’ Content Outlook

Motorola’s Ron Garriques sketched a visionary world of “liquid media” that magically morphs depending on the device in use, no matter if it’s a TV, MP3 player, radio or cellphone. Of more interest to retailers looking to morph sales, he also showed a working prototype of a much anticipated iTunes-enabled cellphone that’s due sometime this year.

Although no specific details were given about the phone, it looks very similar to Motorola’s current C650, but the screen displays the familiar Apple iTunes menu and it offers iPod functionality. It has removable memory, two stereo speakers that come outside of the device, stereo headsets and has the ability to download “stuff over the air, and it’s a form factor we’ve had out there for a while,” Garriques said. Since anything with a lower case “I” is now selling like hot cakes, his audience gave out a cheer when they saw it in action.

Garriques, Motorola’s executive VP/president of the Personal Devices Business, had the unenviable task of stepping in for his boss CEO Ed Zander who had to cancel his keynote due to a death in the family. He was up to the task as he spent 45 minutes providing an overview of the cellphone industry, Motorola’s part in pioneering the category and then sketched Motorola’s philosophy of “Seamless Mobility.”

This continually repeated phase is short hand for the company’s belief that consumers want their content with them everywhere and to perform the tasks humans love to do such as talking and sending text messages. He stressed the devices have to be simple to use or they’ll fail. He pointed to the wildly popular Motorola RAZR V3 cellphone, which is packed with cutting edge technology, but the reason it is selling so well is the fact it fits in your top pocket, looks cool and makes phone calls. A quadband antenna, Bluetooth and all the other buzz words and acronyms don’t mean anything to consumers, he said. “The products that win are simple to use,” highlighting the RAZR, the iPod and Blackberry.

Garriques also discussed how experts thought the cellphone industry was dead in 2000, and that it would turn into a commodity business. “This industry is about as far away from commoditization as it’s ever been and I would tell you this thing is never going to commoditize.” With RAZR in hand he noted that 700 million cellphones were sold worldwide last year and growth was expected to hit 1 billion in a couple of years. He said that due to all the conflicting national standards, technologies and lifestyles, commoditization was an impossibility, that every one of those 1 billion purchases would fit and individual’s need and want. “This is going to be an exciting business going forward.”

He also talked about convergence, how Motorola believed technology was converging around the person using these devices and that people would continue to pay for mobility and content. Motorola’s role in this new world was to act as a catalyst and partner with people such as Apple because “they get music.” And as part of their edgy HelloMoto ad campaign and ski jump outside the main entrance of CES, they teamed with Burton for winter clothes that have built-in Bluetooth-enabled cell phones and pockets for an iPod.

Still for all the discussion about Seamless Mobility and Liquid Media; retailers can’t wait to converge on that iTunes-enabled cellphone.