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Motorola launches lower cost Moto G, but China misses out

Motorola unveiled its new relatively low-cost smart phone on Wednesday, aimed at consumers in emerging markets and those on a tight budget everywhere.
Credit: CNN

Shasta Darlington

CNN

SAO PAULO (CNN) -- Motorola unveiled its new relatively low-cost smart phone on Wednesday, aimed at consumers in emerging markets and those on a tight budget everywhere.

But the one country noticeably missing from the rollout of Moto G was China, thanks to the unfriendly relations with Motorola's parent company Google.

The Moto G will cost just $179 without a contract in the United States, about a third the cost of an iPhone 5c.

Motorola launched the new device in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in a presentation beamed around the globe.

CEO Dennis Woodside said Moto G has set its sights on the whole world.

"It's really designed to serve the half a billion in the world who next year will buy a smart phone for under $200," he told CNN ahead of the launch.

Many of those people are in emerging markets, like Brazil, the world's sixth largest economy with a rising middle class and a major smart phone market.

The Moto G won't be offered in the U.S. until January and it will eventually go on sale in about 30 countries.

In Brazil, sales began Wednesday. The phone starts at 649 reais or about $280, compared to about $600 for the cheapest new iPhone without a contract.

It's aimed at the country's emerging middle class -- people who often don't have computers at home.

"Brazil is an incredibly vibrant market," Woodside said. "People are coming on to the mobile internet for the first time."

Industry observers at the launch said it should be a hot ticket heading into Christmas, with its price and features making it competitive.

Those features include a big, high-resolution screen, the latest Android software a long-life battery, 8 GB of internal storage and a 5 megapixel camera.

"Most people in the world can't afford $500, $600 for a smartphone," said Woodside during the launch. "We think the industry should provide more for the consumer dollar."

In the U.S., Moto G is being targeted at the pre-paid market, especially students and children.

As for China, it is the world's biggest market for low-end mobile phones, but the government blocks many of the Google services -- like Gmail and Google Search -- that Motorola says will make Moto G the new smart phone of choice.

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