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Friday, August 2, 2013

Daily Report: A Google-Built Smartphone Enters a Crowded Field

After lackluster results selling devices made by other companies, Google is giving hardware another try â€" this time with a smartphone made by a company it owns. On Thursday, Motorola Mobility, the handset maker Google bought last year for $12.5 billion and then retooled, introduced the Moto X, the company’s first major device since the deal, Brian X. Chen reports.

The phone has all the standard features expected of today’s top smartphone, with a twist: the ability to control the phone by talking to it, without lifting a finger.

The stakes are big for Google, and not only because of the high price that it paid for Motorola. Google is enormously profitable, but its growth is slowing because of lagging ad sales. Finding success with the new phone could lead to a new source of revenue and a way to get more users to view the company’s ads.

The company has been aggressive in absorbing Motorola. It put a former top executive, Dennis Woodside, in charge of Motorola, laid off thousands of Motorola workers and formed a new team with many employees from its fiercest competitors, including Apple, Samsung and Amazon. A major marketing effort is expected for the Moto X.

“I think we’ve created an awesome company,” said Iqbal Arshad, Motorola’s senior vice president of global product development. “And Moto X represents who we are.”

Still, sales could be an uphill climb. The phone, decked out with multiple processors, sensors and voice controls, is landing squarely in the brutally competitive market for high-end smartphones. And Google has a lot to prove before it is taken seriously as a hardware maker.