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Motorola kills off smartphone-powered laptops

Motorola Atrix

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 8 Oct 2012 at 09:39

Motorola has ended its Webtop experiment, killing off the accessories that let a phone be used to power a low-end laptop.

Webtop allowed phones such as the Motorola Atrix to slot into a dock and act as a laptop as well as a smartphone.

Motorola Mobility, since bought by Google, said the system simply didn't generate enough sales to keep it going. "While consumers around the world have adopted Webtop and the concept spurred a lot of innovation in the industry, the adoption has not been strong enough to justify continued resources being allocated to developing Webtop on future devices," it said in a statement sent to CNet.

Despite the Atrix being voted "best in show" at CES in 2011, a Pacific Crest analyst said the following April that sales were "disappointing" and "well below forecast". Our review praised the Atrix handset, but said using it in laptop mode was "slow and unresponsive" - and the £300 for the "lapdock" alone was too much to pay given a full netbook can be bought for less.

"We have also seen development of the Android operating system focus on the inclusion of more desktop-like features," Motorola added. "Beginning with Photon Q and Droid Razr M/Droid Razr HD/Droid Razr Maxx HD, we will no longer be including Webtop on our products moving forward."

Ubuntu plans

While Motorola's attempt to use a smartphone to power a laptop wasn't a success, that doesn't mean the mobile computing idea is dead. Canonical is working on Ubuntu on Android, which lets a smartphone power a full version of the open-source OS as well as Android, switching between the two systems depending on whether a device is being used as a phone or docked with a laptop.

However, Ubuntu on Android is yet to be released, despite the software being finished in February - and Canonical wouldn't reveal when it might arrive.

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User comments

Ahead of its time?

I still think this is a likely scenario for the future. Motorola arrived at the party too early. Same happened when Microsoft produced their first tablet. Both cases were simply a few years too early with the hardware and software not quite ready.

By skarlock on 8 Oct 2012

Agreed. Give it a couple of years and a less clunky design (WHDI/WiDi video and an inductive charger?)

By aerosol on 8 Oct 2012

Loyalty to customers

The idea was rather strangely realised, the cradle does not seem well thought out. However people have purchased Atrix and other models expecting Motorola to support ICS, particularly since the Google deal.
If there is a fire-sale of the laptop dock they make an ideal companion to the Raspberry Pi.

By milliganp on 8 Oct 2012

Cost...

As I recall the laptop-thing on its own cost more than a basic proper laptop and of course was considerably less powerful. If it didn't sell well that's hardly surprising!

By valeofyork on 9 Oct 2012

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