First published on Deccan Chronicle:
Founded in 1928, American brand Motorola has seen a lot of ups and downs. Pioneer of the wireless communications, the company is known for one of the most iconic phones including the DynaTAC, StarTAC, and RAZR V3. The company did struggle in the post iPhone era though. After suffering massive losses in consecutive years, the company was split into two entities. Under Google’s leadership, the company seemed to be on the right track. However, now in the hands of a Chinese company Lenovo, Motorola seem lost again. Let’s see what has changed in recent years.
After Google took control of the Motorola Mobility, they got rid of Motorola’s horrendous software customisation dubbed MotoBlur. It was one of the worst Android UI out there in market that time. So bad that it even made Samsung’s TouchWiz skin (generally considered tacky) look elegant. More importantly, Motorola decided to go with stock (vanilla) Android. This decision, effectively solved the update delay issue long associated with Motorola.
Another important aspect was the shift in the hardware strategy. Instead of continuing multiple line-ups including from DEFY, Bionic, RAZR, Droid series, Motorola decided to release fewer handsets. Taking inspiration from Nokia’s Lumia 520, which is considered as the first affordable smartphone that offered good user experience, the American company released the Moto G. It turned out to be a huge success in countries like India. With clear focus on competitive pricing, Motorola expanded its portfolio with the Moto X and Moto E.
The trio received lots of love from the consumers. Not only because of the pricing, but timely updates and some clever tweaks such as Active Notifications and Touchless Controls. Motorola stood out as the only Android maker not interested in meaningless specifications race. It became the go to brand for price sensitive smartphone buyers without compromising much on the quality.
It is no surprise that people had high expectations from Motorola’s next-gen line-up. However, the company simply upgraded the specifications a bit and did not bother to change the design. Nothing about the second generation Moto phones looked or felt new. After Lenovo’s acquisition, things did not improve either. The third-gen Moto G still looked almost like the second-gen. If you ever complained about Samsung being lazy at designs, check this out:
The new Moto E got owned by the Chinese competitors. The Moto X got split into two variants — Moto X Play and Moto X Style. The X Play turned out to be first phone to hurt the Moto X brand with serious performance issues. Although the X Style was much better that its sibling, it was still a step down in terms of a display. In the latest iteration, Motorola decided to go with cheaper LCD panel compared to the OLED panels found in the predecessors.
Overall, Motorola is no longer a company that provides interesting products at affordable prices. Well, it hasn’t even bothered to refresh its design for over three generations. Motorola was on its way to its comeback. However, with its half-hearted attempts in the recent times, suggests that the brand is losing its way.