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Motorola takes Iphone head on

WASHINGTON, Sept 14 – Motorola has unveiled its first smartphone powered by Google’s Android software, a device called the "Cliq" that the US handset maker hopes will help turn around its flagging fortunes.

Motorola co-chief executive Sanjay Jha introduced the touch-screen phone, which is to be available through T-Mobile, the US wireless operation of Deutsche Telekom AG, at the GigaOm Mobilize09 event in San Francisco.

Described as "the first phone with social skills," the Cliq is heavily geared toward social networking with features built around sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

For example, Jha said, caller ID on the phone will display the name of the incoming caller along with their profile picture and latest status update.

Updates from social networks or email can also be streamed and viewed on the phone’s home screen.

The Cliq features a slide-out keyboard, a music player, a five megapixel camera with video capture and the full complement of Google mobile services such as Google calendar, Google maps and built-in GPS.

Motorola did not disclose a price for the device.

Jha said the Cliq was one of two smartphones Motorola expected to release by the end of the year running Google’s open-source Android operating system.

"Android gives us a platform to innovate and enhance user experiences," he said.

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The other Android-based device would be unveiled "in the coming weeks," Jha said, and both would hit store shelves in time for the holiday season.

"We expect (the Cliq) to be one of our hottest-selling devices in the fourth quarter," said T-Mobile chief technology officer Cole Brodman, who appeared on stage with Jha.

Google and T-Mobile released the first so-called "Google Phone," the T-Mobile G1, which is manufactured by Taiwan’s HTC Corp., in October of last year.

US wireless carrier Sprint Nextel and HTC announced plans last week to release a touch-screen mobile phone in October, the HTC Hero, powered by Android.

Motorola enjoyed success with its popular Razr phone launched in 2005.

But the Illinois-based company has been losing ground since to Apple’s popular iPhone and Research in Motion’s Blackberry as well as other major cell phone makers such as Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

Motorola shares gained 1.53 percent on Wall Street on Thursday to close at 7.97 dollars.

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