Motorola's new Moto G smartphone is the company's latest attempt to equip the world, particularly Latin America, with the latest smartphone technology, at less than a third the retail price.
The Moto G is $179 in the U.S. without a contract requirement and started selling in Brazil and parts of Europe on Wednesday. That compares with $600 or more that people must pay for phones without traditional two-year service agreements.
Motorola, which is owned by Google Inc., said Wednesday that it will target an estimated 500 million people worldwide who can't afford phones costing more than $200. In the past, the company said, those consumers were limited to phones with technology that's at least a year old and thus unable to run the latest apps and services.
Brazil presents a world of opportunities for online advertisers, online retail stores and mobile Internet use. Latin America is home to the world's fastest growing Internet market, particularly in Brazil, which is home to the region's largest number of Internet users. In fact, 62 million, nearly half of all of Latin America's online audience lives in the South American country.
The company is targeting not just emerging markets, but budget-conscious consumers in the U.S. Although people can often get phones with contract at the lower price, service fees are higher because they include the cost of subsidizing those phones. And many people don't have good enough credit to qualify and are limited to so-called pre-paid plans, which aren't eligible for the subsidized prices.
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With the Moto G, Motorola is trying to offer a device that is closer to what leading high-end phones currently offer.
The phone's 4.5-inch screen, measured diagonally, is capable of high-definition video, but only at 720p, not at the better, 1020p standard found in leading phones. The resolution is 329 pixels per inch, which is comparable to the 326 pixels in the latest, 4-inch iPhones but short of the 441 pixels in Samsung's 5-inch Galaxy S4.
The $179 price is for a phone with 8 gigabytes of storage, not the 16 gigabytes typical with high-end phones. A 16-gigabyte version is available for $199.
The phone also has a recent processor from Qualcomm and runs a recent version of Google's operating system, Android 4.3, also known as Jelly Bean. The newest version, 4.4 or Kit Kat, is promised by January. Kit Kat was designed to work well with older phones and the latest devices alike.
The phone starts selling in Brazil and parts of Europe on Wednesday. It will be available in Canada, parts of Asia and the rest of Europe and Latin America over the next few weeks. It is expected in the U.S., India, the Middle East and additional markets in Asia in January. Motorola didn't announce any plans for Africa.
Moto G will have a removable back to allow for customization. Motorola's flagship Moto X also allows customization, but it must be ordered in advance and can't be changed.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.
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