What's the difference between an alliance and a plain old product announcement?

If you ask Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) and Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI), the answer would be "a lot." The companies just announced a slate of more than 10 (this one goes to 11!) new devices to be introduced throughout the year, and they call it a "reinvigorated alliance that strengthens and extends the two companies’ device innovation leadership."

So what's so groundbreaking about this partnership? Well, Sprint and Motorola do cover some all-new ground, as Motorola never sold a phone through the carrier's Virgin Mobile USA prepaid brand before. Moreover, this lineup contains Sprint's first Motorola-branded 4G smartphone -- they've all been HTC and Samsung products so far.

On top of that, the Photon 4G also happens to be a state-of-the-art piece of technology. Featuring a high-end NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA) Tegra 2 processor, that juicy 4G connection, and the latest available handset version of Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android software, this thing can hold its own in any head-to-head comparison today. It's even a dual-mode world phone, capable of handling Sprint's own CDMA network but also the GSM standard in use at AT&T (NYSE: T).

None of this is game-changing, of course. This is not the second coming of AT&T's exclusive rights to sell Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhones; after all, Motorola's biggest American partner is still Verizon (NYSE: VZ) under the Droid product line.

But it never hurts to make a spectacle out of a multiproduct launch, does it? Anything that raises the profile of Sprint's network and brand will be a boon to that company, as it's lagging Ma Bell and Verizon badly in the race for market-leading subscriber counts.

The best way to gauge how this so-called alliance works out is to keep a close watch on the partners. Our new My Watchlist feature helps you do just that by keeping you connected to Foolish analysis and news on any company you choose. Add Motorola Mobility or Sprint Nextel to My Watchlist.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Google but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, AT&T, Apple, and NVIDIA, as well as writing puts in NVIDIA and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.