menu search

Motorola is silently winning, here’s why

by Jaime Rivera on November 27, 2013 2:35 PM

If you asked me 15 years ago to buy a Motorola cellphone, I would say I never would. Back then, Motorola cellphones had 1-bit displays, a couple of fixed ringtones, and you couldn’t record more than 10 numbers in the phonebook. If any of you remember these, you’d remember how hilarious it was to try to decipher what those orange letters said on that 1-bit display. By contrast Nokia was already playing with 8-bit displays on my first Nokia 250 NAMPS, which also allowed me to store 99 contacts in the phonebook, and even though the Snake game still didn’t exist, it was clear that Nokia gave me more for my money.

3000That mentality of mine didn’t last long, though. I really wasn’t a fan of the first StarTAC 3000 because it was just a smaller 1-bit phone, but it was clear that Motorola was on to something. Once Motorola figured out how to improve its UI, I simply couldn’t control my desire to switch to Motorola. I don’t know about you, but in my case, they convinced me by adopting bold designs, and adding some amazing call quality.

Now, it’s clear that Moto hasn’t had the best couple of years lately. The company did an amazing job in making a comeback with Verizon and the whole Droid campaign, so much so, that each gave the iPhone a run for its money. People still call Android phones Droids, so it’s clear that this strategy helped position Android to where it is today. The bold designs were still there, as the company experimented with things like Kevlar, nano-coating, and the likes as well. Sadly the resulting sales figures weren’t as strong as Motorola needed to keep the company running.

Many of us where skeptical about the Google buy-out, since hey, Google hasn’t really been a products company in the past. Still, as much as many debate whether the Moto X and Moto G are good or not, it’s interesting to admit that all the tech reviewers that I know love these devices. It’s clear that the combination of both Google and Motorola has given us a couple of products that are worthy of praise, even if each of these is a complete contrast to what the market screams that customers should buy. At times when competing OEMs are trying hard to make the spec sheet relevant, Motorola is doing the complete opposite, and delighting those who own its products in result. Why is this? How is it that Motorola is silently making everyone else look bad?

I want you all to think long and hard about this. At times when the Moto X and Moto G have nothing that a device like the Galaxy Note 3 can provide, and in the case of us tech reviewers who have access to all of these phones, why do many of us prefer the Moto X? Here are a couple of reasons:

Motorola is focusing on what matters

Here’s a little exercise for you – If I asked you to wear a winter jacket, boots, and long johns during the summer, would you? I’m not saying you can’t, I’m sure you can, and given the right motives, I’m sure a lot of you would do so if you had to, but the question is – would you? Without a logical motive to do so, would you?

moto-x-hand-angleSee, I love my Galaxy Note 3. I enjoy knowing that I carry one of the most powerful phones in the market, and I love that I have an S Pen available to me everywhere, and the multi-window support is definitely awesome. Sadly, I’m not going lie that using this phone for most of the basic tasks that everyone else needs a phone, can be quite cumbersome. I hate making phone calls with it because it’s huge. I also hate having to carry it in my pocket. I hate having to use it as my only daily driver for things like messaging since the thing is so big. Sometimes, driving your 6-wheel Dodge RAM through Manhattan can prove to be difficult, and if all you want to do is get to the other side, it can be frustrating.

There are lots of us that want a phone that can do everything, but in reality, most of the rest of the world just wants a phone that can do everything right, and in a comfortable way. The Moto X is extremely underpowered when compared to the Galaxy Note 3, but it’s comfortable for making phone calls, it fits wonderfully in the hand, it has all-day battery life, and I can even talk to the phone and it responds, which is far better than doing stupid things like Air Gesture. I know S Voice allows me to do this in a way, but then I’d have to dare you to actually use S Voice, right?

If you’ve ever wondered why there are so many iPhones on the street today, I’m sure that if Motorola keeps this mentality that has begun with the Moto X, we’ll be asking that exact same question about Motorola phones in the future. Like the iPhone, the Moto X can’t do it all, but it does what matters to most people, better than most other competing phones.

Motorola isn’t scared to cannibalize itself

When Apple launched the first iPhone, the first question people asked is why would this company be willing to cannibalize its iPod line-up. In the words of Steve Jobs – “I’d rather do it myself, than have somebody else do it for me”.

Moto-GDevices like the Moto G are disruptive. This phone is less expensive than the subsidy price of most smartphones, and it’s even less expensive than almost every single feature phone left in the market. For a company like Motorola, that still builds feature phones for emerging markets, this is a very bold move that could kill that business all together. Still, it’s really not a bad idea to give the world a reason to move away from feature phones.

Before you give me all the Nokia Lumia 520 talk at $100, let me remind you that you sadly can’t fully operate Windows Phone 8 on its underpowered hardware, which is not the case of the Moto G, and specially now that KitKat was designed to make it perform like a beast. Sure the Lumia 520 is inexpensive, but we’re talking disruptive, not inexpensive, and this Lumia sadly hasn’t reached that level.

I’m going to sound really funny saying this – but the Moto G can change the world. The iPhone changed what we expect from a smartphone, and if the Moto G succeeds, it’ll destroy the feature phone market, and force OEMs to drop the prices of smartphones. I won’t deny that I personally feel like buying one just to show my support for such a bold move, even if I don’t need the phone.

The bottom line

The greatest fact about adversity is that it forces people and companies to think out of the box. Motorola’s desperate times have clearly taught it to stop trying to have the customer compete against the spec sheet, and instead delight the customer with a great user experience. Our market is full of spec sheets, and full of phones that are too big to be comfortable to actually use. Even if they have gigantic screens for amazing multi-media consumption, this is pointless if they don’t have enough battery life to give me that experience all day.

People criticize Apple for not following what other OEMs do, and yet, the Cupertino kids still sell phones like hot cakes. I’m glad that Motorola has stopped focusing on being like every other OEM, and even stopped trying to be like Apple. Motorola is now trying to be the company it always was, which is a bold designer of disruptive technologies that can change the world. If you debate this statement, don’t forget to thank them for inventing the first cell phone, aside from other technologies.

The effects of what Motorola is doing will not be seen with the Moto X, nor with the Moto G. They are just the first step into a new mentality that I’m sure many will follow. Again, I just hope both these products succeed, because I can’t wait for more devices to cost a close amount to what the Moto G costs, for all those specs.

What about you? Do you feel Motorola is disrupting the market with these two products? Do you disagree? Leave us a comment.

Desktop Version