Moto, VzW Get Touchy Over Krave

Motorola Inc. sometimes reminds me of myself in middle school: always just a little late to the fashion party. When everyone was moving onto spiral perms, I was still feathered. Everyone else wearing Guess jeans? I was rocking the overalls. Etc. Similarly, Moto has been lagging behind a little in the handset world, taking a beating in its stock price and not offering an equivalent smartphone to the other slick endpoints hitting the marketplace. This week Moto surprised its critics and updated itself to the latest fashion with the U.S. launch of the Krave ZN4 mobile phone, for Verizon Wireless. It features a touchscreen — the latest cellular thing.

The Krave has been retailing in China for the last couple of years under the name “Ming” but hasn’t been high-profile here. The form factor’s differentiators include a clear flip lid that comes down to protect the touchscreen. Retailing for $149.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate, the handset doesn’t have Wi-Fi, and the browser experience needs tweaking, according to the blogosphere.

There’s been a flurry of touchscreen releases lately, including the Google G1, Nokia Tube and BlackBerry Storm, which join the existing iPhone, Samsung Instinct and other offers. I sense a product showcase coming on.

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