Motorola have just announced the launch of the Aura. It’s a rotator or swivel mobile phone that borrows heavily from the Motorola V70 which launched back in 2002 in a blaze of publicity. I was one of the people responsible for launching the V70 in the UK in my role at one of the big operators.
At the time the V70 stood out as a completely new concept that impressed your mates down the pub with it’s rotating case and blue reverse monochrome display. Now, don’t forget that in those days colour screens were only just hitting the market and in very low resolution, touchscreens were confined to the PDA market and the mobile internet was confined to WAP, basically ‘monochrome teletext, but crapper’, as a friend once described it to me.
Whilst the V70 was a sexy phone it was very expensive for the relatively basic feature set and it quickly died in the market as people chose phones that did more, had better battery life and a screen big enough to read more than two lines of a text message at a time.
Motorola’s Aura looks set to make the same mistakes. It boasts a world first in the 16 million colour, 300 dpi circular display and it’s fancy opening mechanism but it is missing so many features that are relevant to most mobile phone users today.
The Aura’s lack of 3G means any mobile internet surfing will be painful. The poor spec camera and apparent lack of email client all point to a phone that sacrifices functionality for form. It’s only useful if you’re a pure talker texter who wants to look good.
I think that the Aura will fall into the same trap as the V70 and appeal to such a small part of the market that it makes too few sales to get stocked for more than a few months on the high street. This is the first significant new phone annoucement from Motorola for a while, which is good news if you want to see a big manufacturer continue to keep the market innovative and competitive, but is the Aura really going to get Motorola out of the mire?