New Motorola Photon Q Aims to Woo Business Users This Fall

By | Aug 8, 2012

The business smartphone market hasn't seen much in the way of targeted product lines in the last few years, with consumer devices like the iPhone and iPad making corporate inroads as the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend gains steam. Old standbys like the BlackBerry have been largely phased out, but now Motorola hopes to give business users something to call their own, once again, in the form of the Motorola Photon Q, due out in the latter part of 2012. But can this smartphone really make an impact for IT and company use?

Sprint to the Finish

Sprint Nextel will sell the new Motorola Photon Q according to CEO Dan Hesse. If their Q2 losses--reported by a recent CNET article--are any indication, they need something to perk up the numbers. Despite selling 1.5 million iPhones, high subsidies on the devices along with its Nextel shutdown and a network transformation to support their new 4G network, the company has posted a $1.37 billion loss and will likely have a few more quarters in the red before things turn around. Ideally, the Photon Q is part of that plan.

It was Hesse, not Motorola itself, who broke the news of the business smartphone's arrival, and he also talked up the company's other smartphone offerings, like the Galaxy S3 and HTC Evo. As a distant third in the U.S. carrier market, Sprint Nextel has a long road ahead if they want to stay competitive, and they appear to be banking on Motorola's newest release.

For midsize IT pros, carriers aren't so much the issue as phone function; a lack of true business-class phones and the BYOD trend have conspired to make the mobile market a headache for admins trying to establish consistent company policies about access and app use across various device types. But does the new Motorola really offer anything different?

Special Specs?

According to an article at Slashgear, the new Motorola Photon Q will take the slide-out keyboard route rather that the now-common candybar touchscreen. Although not typical in the market in the last few years, slide-out keyboards were often preferred by business users for their tactile feel and more direct response as opposed to more nebulous typing on a touchscreen.

There's little else that's been confirmed about the phone, but rumor says it will come with 4.3-inch screen and have on-screen navigation buttons rather than Motorola's standard physical inputs. As for operating system the likely candidate is Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. But if Google cracks the whip, Jelly Bean might squeeze its way into the Photon Q. The five-row keyboard included will likely make this a hefty mobile device, but that's not always a bad thing in the world of slick, glass screen iPhones and lightweight consumer products.

The phone is being targeted to business users, but aside from the keyboard slide-out, there's little concrete that's been announced to woo midsize IT pros and corporate users. If the device includes features for virtual environment division, easy email, and document sharing and comes with a business-focused 4G plan, it may be something worth looking into for a company-wide rollout and might make the business of securing at least one smartphone niche simpler. Perhaps the return of business-class phones is at hand--but can keyboards and Ice Cream take the place of touchscreens and Apples?

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.