Fifteen years ago we started to see the first widely-available smartphones. Built on Symbian or Windows technologies, these devices came in all shapes and sizes and although some are recognisable precursors of the phones we use today, many concepts anded up as dead ends.
Motorola added another alternative form factor to the market with the Motorola MPx200, a Windows-based clamshell phone which looked for all the world like a normal feature phone until you powered it on.
Although it seems odd to have a clamshell smartphone, it made a lot of sense. In particular, clamshell phones of the time had more space to play with inside. The MPx200 came with a relatively large 2.2” 176 x 220 pixel panel as a result, and the keypad was nicely spaced and not cramped.
The main selling point was Windows, and this was both a strength and weakness for the MPx200. Managing to squeeze much of the functionality of a PDA into a compact unit with wireless connectivity, Motorola came up with something that could potentially be very versatile… and perhaps it had the potential to be very popular.
But the MPx200 was deeply flawed. Firstly, the Windows Smartphone 2002 operating system was already out of date with most rivals using the improved 2003 version. It also lacked Bluetooth, something that was rapidly becoming an essential component of any business phone. Added to that, the device was slow and not very reliable. There was also no camera, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for a business phone but was off-putting for individual consumers.
Despite its flaws, it was quite a successful device in terms of sales. But as with many Motorola products of that era, the MPx200 promised more that it delivered. In mid-2004, Motorola replaced the MPx200 with the much improved MPx220 which wasn’t particularly successful. Perhaps if Motorola had waited until they got the formula right then they might have had more success. For collectors of esoteric smartphones, the MPx200 isn’t too hard to find and is fairly inexpensive but the MPx220 is rather more difficult to locate and tends to be a bit pricier.
Image credit: Motorola