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Motorola AURA: a halo effect?

 Motorola AURO: a halo effect? 21st October 2008
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Whether or not you regard the new Motorola AURA as an awesome piece of engineering or an overpriced piece of junk, it seems quite likely that this particular handset will generate plenty of positive news stories for Motorola, even if it does look a little like a set of bathroom scales.

The word "Aura" is interesting.. it can mean many things, for example, a halo. But Cathartes aura is also a type of vulture (the Turkey Buzzard) which doesn't bode well. So what kind of aura are we talking about?

Motorola's last big announcement, the MOTOZINE ZN5 was in many ways a crushing disappointment. And Motorola watchers will be used to a succession of handsets that failed to turn around that troubled company's fortunes. So, can the AURA do any better?

At $2000, the AURA is not intended as a mass-market device. The precise engineering and expensive materials used to build it should ensure that it always remains an exclusive handset, even though the price will almost definitely drop after it has been around for a while. We don't know how much profit Motorola will be making on the AURA, but the sales volume will probably never amount to much.

 Turkey Buzzard But perhaps the AURA is about something different - it is Motorola's way of saying "hey look, we can be cool too!".. and just perhaps it will have a "halo effect" on the rest of the range. After all, if the Motorola AURA is cool, perhaps other Motorola handsets are cool too?

So, are other Motorolas cool? Umm, well.. at a stretch you might say that some of them are a little bit cool. After all, the Motorola ZINE ZN5 does have a brilliant camera, the KRAVE ZN4's external touchscreen is extremely clever (even if we can't quite see what it is for). Some earlier phones such as the Z10 have some pretty good features. But cool? Maybe a little bit.. but certainly not iPhone cool.

Remember that when the RAZR came out (and also the StarTAC), prices were very high indeed. Part of the excitement about the RAZR was the exclusive price tag.. of course this steadily dropped to the point where you can buy a new one for next to nothing today. But the AURA will always be expensive because of the time-consuming and very precise engineering needed, and low sales volumes will tend to drive the price up higher.. after all, exactly who else is going to need a 1.55" circular LED display?

Perhaps Motorola have something else up their sleeves.. perhaps a cut-down version of the AURA made from more traditional materials? If this is the case, then maybe the plan with the AURA is to create a "buzz".. and then Motorola will come up with something cheaper with more mass-market appeal. Just as a price comparison to the $2000 Motorola AURA, the Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte currently retails for about $1600 SIM-free, and the somewhat cheaper (but still expensive) standard 8800 Arte is around $1000. There are very few handsets more expensive than the AURA.

We really do hope that the AURA is the sign of better things to come from Motorola. We do know that Motorola are assembling quite a large team to work on the Android platform, and some other recent devices show promise. So perhaps, just perhaps, Motorola is not quite as doomed as we predicted.



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