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Motorola smartwatch coming this year

gadgets Updated: Feb 27, 2014 10:08 IST

Motorola has used the Mobile World Congress to announce it is the latest smartphone maker with designs on consumers' wrists and that that consumers should expect a new Moto X handset this summer.

And while it was just an announcement, with no accompanying concept or prototype, the company's Senior VP, Rick Osterloh, promised that the finished item would be "more a piece of jewllery rather than ugly tech" and that to achieve that, a number of style and design problems will need to be solved.

Osterloh's comments mirror those of HTC chairman Cher Wang, who earlier this month revealed her company's plans regarding smartwatches and wearable technology.

"Many years ago we started looking at smartwatches and wearables, but we believe that we really have to solve the battery problems and the LCD light problems," she said during an interview with Bloomberg. "These are customer-centric problems."

An orderly queue of tech companies waiting to join the wearable technology party is starting to form and Mobile World Congress is this week full of the latest offerings from those firms -- from Samsung to Huawei and Sony -- that are already at the party and trying to convince guests of the benefits of wearing a smartwatch as well as carrying a smartphone.

And with the notable exceptions of the Ibis Dual Face Smart Watch and the Pebble Steel, the majority of the devices on show -- the Samsung Gear 2, the Huawei TalkBand, the Sony Smartwatch 2 -- are all high on tech and low on looks. Yet they're aimed as much at existing watch-wearers as they are at technophiles and with price tags of $300+ they're competing directly with a host of well-made, Swiss traditional watches that look great and do their one job -- telling the time -- perfectly.

As for Motorola's plans, let's hope its next watch is a marked improvement over the company's last attempt to build a smartwatch. As the company's executives were taking to the stage in Barcelona, images leaked online of the Gem, the much rumored smartwatch Motorola was supposedly building for Google and that had been expected to launch in 2013. Although not of the greatest quality, the images show a very cheap-looking black plastic and rubber watch devoid of any style or aesthetics whatsoever.

But as well as -- hopefully improved -- designs on consumers' wrists, Motorola also confirmed that its MotoMaker service, which lets customers customize and personalize their handsets via a web portal, will be launching in Europe later this year.
Starting with the UK and Germany this March, when consumers order a Moto X or Moto G handset online, they will also be able to choose the color and material of the back plate and also select protective cases.

However, Europeans might want to wait before they start customizing because a new version of the Moto X handset will also be coming, potentially as early as the summer.