Motorola kills off smartphone-powered laptops

Smartphone-powered-laptop system fails to catch on for Motorola

8 Oct 2012

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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