Remember the Motorola Moto X? The first poster child of Google’s then newly-acquired company that was expected to thrust the American company back in the public limelight and make it catch up with the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy crowd. Unfortunately it may have had the guts to not only make the phone in the US and allow users to customize their units before delivery but its decision to overprice the device and restrict it to just the US market never mind the apparently mid-range specs has come back to bite it. And its not a small bite, its a big one. Big enough for any one serious about the business they are in to feel the heat.
Today is November the 13th. This is the day that Motorola is expected to release a device for everyone in the world. A low cost device that will not be restricted to the US or just North America neither will it be a carrier exclusive as is the case with Motorola’s DROID lineup. Reports of the Moto G’s imminent launch filtered in at around the same time that Strategy Analytics released a report showing that the Moto X sold just 500,000 units since its unveiling in August this year. Picture this, 500,000 units since launch day in a market where Samsung managed to ship 10 million Galaxy S4 units and Apple could make do with over 9 million sold units in the iPhone 5s’ opening weekend. make your conclusions.
It’s not that Motorola is playing at the same league level as the big boys (Samsung and Apple) but the hype that device got from tech journalists and tech bloggers pre-launch was enough to think that the world had finally found a new “Jesus” phone, rekindling memories of the frenzy that accompanied the launch of the first iPhone back in 2007. That hype, frenzy and what have you died down once the excessively leaked device was finally unveiled. Average specs, over-pricing and a one-market availability policy by Motorola combined forces to make the Moto X just a pale shadow of the expectations that everyone had. Long story short, it flopped. Strategy Analytics is predicting that at least the device will sell a million units this quarter. If that is something promising then I am not sure what to describe the other devices that bypass the 1 million mark in a day (hello Xiaomi) and aren’t associated with a big name like Google or a big spending consumer base like the US’s.
The result? Somebody at Motorola’s marketing team realized that the “Made in the USA” cry that they expected to push emotional and proud Americans to get the device in droves was not enough. We have been reading of massive price cuts in the last few days. The developer edition of the Moto X just had $100 shed so that interested Android enthusiasts and other users can now get it at $549. The $199 on-contract pricing obviously was never going to work. At the same price US consumers could pick out another very capable Android device with table-topping specs. As much as many may not want to acknowledge it, specs do matter. More so when it comes to consumers spending a lot. The higher the pricing the better the specs should be otherwise you are in for a rude shock. Also, going US only with a device guarantees you some fair share of disappointment.The US market is firmly in the hands of Apple and Samsung with the two experiencing massive sales of their devices and having solid agreements with carriers.
The Moto X’s single point of interest and its greatest advantage was the customization. This was going to be the first truly hardware customizable device where one could use the Moto maker tool to easily design their own phone by picking out the colour, add some custom name on the back panel and in some cases even choose the material e.g wood. Not only was the Moto maker tool made a carrier exclusive* (AT&T) but the wooden Moto X just shows up in leaks and is yet to be officially available. Last nail on that coffin.
For all of us who bit our fingers since we were never going to see an international version of the Moto X and given the ridiculous pricing we are glad we did not get the chance, there’s the Moto G coming up. Let’s hope it is all the Moto X never was and is favourably priced with just good enough specs fit for a low cost device. Else those low end Tizen devices and Nokia’s upcoming Lumia 525 will easily crush it.
*MotoMaker is now available for other US carriers other than AT&T starting two days ago.