Featured Editorial: Motorola Where Art Thou?

2012 has been quite the year for smartphones and tablets; more so for smartphones but that's a story for another time I'd say. What with new - much faster - processors, higher-resolution displays, new materials and the latest from Android all becoming the norm it's easy for a manufacturer to be shunned into the corner of a consumer's mind even quicker. Motorola, for instance haven't been all that active in amongst this heavy advancement in the Android world - the Droid Razr was and still is a solid device but, there's only so many colours and battery sizes a company can ship.

Motorola By The Numbers

Not too long Motorola released numbers for Q1 of 2012; these figures included an $86-million loss. Whilst they did beat industry predictions for revenue at $3.08-billion opposed to the prediction of $3.03-billion. For many this stands out as the only loss from Motorola Mobility in some time however, 2011 didn't seem to fare all that well for the arm of the company either. Posting a $56-million loss Q2 of 2011, a $32-million loss for Q3 and rounding out the year with a sizable $80-million loss for Q4 of the year. Of course, these regular losses could be down to the acquisition by Google however, does a merging acquisition mean that the company must stop innovating? I'll admit to not being an industry mogul by any means but, it certainly seems that the company is either waiting for this merger to go through before doing anything truly new or that they're just resting on their laurels.

Motorola's Razr Point

At the tail-end of 2011 Motorola brought back from the dead a brand that was ridiculously successful for the company - the Razr. Time was that the phone Apple had to beat in terms of figures was the Motorola Razr of course, Apple eventually did beat figures of the Razr but this leads me to what I'm getting at here; once upon time Motorola was the company to beat in mobile. That time however, has come and gone. With their resurrection of the Razr - under the guise of the Droid Razr for Verizon - they created a compelling handset, for sure, with a fantastically slim figure at only 7.1mm, a Super AMOLED dislay at qHD along with a case made with Kevlar for durability. The Droid Razr also featured a dual-core CPU and a very capable 8MP camera. The Razr was also the darling of Verizon's proper 4G LTE network, netting some serious speeds if you've covered. If you're Motorola you've got to feel like you've got a pretty strong handset, right? Well, it seems Motorola believed this not enough.

Mere months after the original Droid Razr they unveiled the Droid Razr MAXX, the same phone - right down to the software build inside - apart from the massive 3300mAh battery. This added huge battery is what annoyed a lot of customers seeing that LTE is a massive battery drain seemed to be par for the course in 2011. The Razr's battery wasn't immune to this either and as such Verizon and Motorola saw fit to release this new edition with twice the battery life, why they did this so soon after the original launch baffled myself and others. Sure, those who were looking at the original Razr wide-eyed are more than likely going to still buy the thinner Razr but, those who had already bought the Razr and were massively disappointed by the battery life well, you're going to be pretty mad to say the least. Especially if you had been locked into a 2-year contract and even more especially if you're the type of person that wants to get things done all day long. To see the phone you bought only last month - or last week even - seemingly superseded is not a nice feeling, at all.

Wait, there's more, what about different colours? Didn't like black, no worries there go and get yourself a white one. Oh, you don't like white? Well, soon you can buy the Droid Razr in blue! Sure, most manufacturers do the whole white color thing to boost sales - that's pretty standard, right? What I can't help feeling though is that Motorola might be trying to revive their strategy from the original Razr. How many versions of that phone were there? Any color you wanted you could more or less get, there was the V2 then the V3 Razr. I don't think that Motorola can succeed reviving a strategy from yesteryear. But, it seems like there willing to give it a go, with rumours of another edition dubbed the Droid Razr HD gaining substantial evidence would suggest that Motorola is certainly milking this particular cow to death. To me, and a great many consumers, Motorola's Razr point is beginning to look increasingly blunt.

Motorola and Daddy Google

When the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google was announced the tech world was buzzing with questions on what this would mean for both the phone giant and Android as a whole. Since then, there's obviously been a lot of speculation but, if there's one thing I think we can all count on is that Google aren't going to interfere much with Motorola Mobility if, at all, "the way Android's going to continue to be successful is to be neutral." In Andy Rubin's own words - I'm inclined to believe him. It wouldn't be in anybody's interest to make Motorola a favourite. It's clear to me, that Google more than likely bought Motorola Mobility to create a patent shield for Android and, if that's all they wanted then fine but, this is no reason for Motorola Mobility to continue to fall behind.

I hope that this might give a shot in the arm to the design teams at Motorola, for too long now they've seemed squarely in Verizon's pocket. Here in the UK Motorola is all but an obscure handset manufacturer most known for it's strangely named dumbphones of old and it's "Hello Moto" advertisements ran on TV. Any device that reaches shelves here or elsewhere in Europe in any big way is a rehash of a device for Verizon. The original Xoom might be the exception as Google certainly played a part in that but, the Milestones are but Droid's in drag, the Xoom 2 is a Xyboard more tamely named. Nothing new has come from Motorola Mobility for some time, especially not internationally and this is something that must change if Motorola hope to become a dominate player in the smartphone industry.

The wolves are circling with the likes of HTC's excellent One Series and the fast incoming Galaxy S3 and in their current state Motorola have no chance of fending them off and to me, that's a real shame. Motorola used to be a pioneer in the mobile space and I'd like to see another competitor come in and shake things up. Competition is what makes Android so great, it's the choice that bought me in and keeps me here, there can never be such a thing as too much choice and right now, Motorola isn't a choice I can safely recommend to anybody if a choice, at all.


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About the Author

Tom Dawson

Former Editor-in-Chief
For years now I've had a heavy interest in technology, growing up with 8-bit computers and gaming consoles has fed into an addiction to everything that beeps. Android saved me from the boredom of iOS years ago and I love watching the platform grow. As an avid reader and writer nothing pleases me more than to write about the exciting world of Android, Google and mobile technology as a whole.