A lot of tech journalist have written a lot of things about Motorola. Journalist and Analyst have already made the conclusion that buying Motorola was the biggest mistake Google did.
I don’t tend to agree with that hypothesis.
My first mobile phone was a Motorola candy bar phone in 2001. I loved it. There is always a soft spot for your ‘”firsts”. I have a soft spot for Motorola too. I owned a Razr phones from Motorola after that. Razr made the phones look sexy before there was an iPhone!
After the Razr, they faltered and they faltered badly. Even in its downturn, they made couple of well build phones. The original Droid and Motorola Atrix. Original Droid was a breakthrough device for Android. It kick started the growth for Android. Motorola Atrix was the first Android phone in US that had a screen resolution of 540 X 960. Motorola always had a great cell reception and a great battery life. That is even true with the products like Razr Maxx HD.
In 2011, Google announced that it is buying Motorola mobility for $12.5 billion. That was a huge deal for Google. The deal was finally closed in May 2012. Since then Motorola has released 3 phones in US – Droid M, Droid HD and Droid Maxx HD. Ironically all phones are only available on Verizon in US. Motorola also release a variant of Droid M for international market, called Razr i. The phone is similar to Razr M, but runs on Intel atom chip. The inability to get Motorola phones across multitude of carriers was the biggest reason for the drop in global market share. What would it take for Motorola to get back to a point where people start talking about it and start buying their phone once again?
What would Motorola do?
Here is my take.
Motorola set the tone last year by releasing 3 phones. Each phone had something in it for everybody. Droid M was perfect 4 inch phone that was no taller than iPhone 4/4S. Droid Razr was 4.7 720P phone and was a decent mid-size phone. Droid Razr Maxx had an amazing battery life. Motorola was on to something, but I would want them to push the envelope a little further this time around.
Yes, Motorola should release 4 phones that cater towards different markets and price points. They should come in all colors and can have different SKU for different cell radios and storage size, but the design should fall under these 4 categories.
- 4 inch 720P – $199 unlocked phone
- 4.3 inch 720P- $279 and $349 unlocked phone
- 4.7 inch 1080P - $449 unlocked phone
- 5 inch 1080P - $549 unlocked phone
It goes without saying that there should be no “Blur” or skin on top of AOSP.
4 inch 720P – $199 unlocked phone
Like it or not, but this is the most important phone they should carry. All indicators point towards a slowing high end smartphone market. It is evident with Apple and now Samsung and HTC. The next 1 billion smart phones are going to come from places like India, China and South Africa. Motorola needs to compete against ZTE, Huawei, Micromax, Low and Mid-range Nokia Lumia series and the rumored “cheaper” iPhone
A cheap phone does not have to translate to cheaper materials.
The next 1 billion people are not going to change their phones every 2 years. Focus on ruggedness. I am not thinking of water proof or military grade ruggedness, but just enough for one to hold without thinking it is going to break the moment it falls. Make it sturdy enough so that it can withstand in someones pocket when that person is standing in a packed bus/train in Mumbai or China. The next billion people might not have the flexibility to charge the phone every 4 hours. Heck, they might not have electricity for 2 days! Give a phone decent battery life and a great standby time. This might make the phone a little bulky, but bulkiness of a phone can be covered by good design and tapered edges.
Give the phone a decent LCD screen which is more easily readable in direct sunlight.
MSM8960 is such a great processor from 2012. It is the perfect processor for the price point and has a lower foot print (28 nm) when it comes to process technology.
16GB is a must.
A decent 5 MP phone and a decent front facing phone.
This won’t have LTE. HSPA+ and DC-HSPA on-board
4.3 inch 720P – $279 and $349 unlocked phone
There are folks who want a 4.3 inch phone and this would be a nice step up to the cheapest phone.
This can have the same design shell as the $199 phone.
S4 Pro APQ8064 and MSM8960T. This are great processors that runs Adreno 320 GPU.
16GB is a must.
A good 8 MP phone and a decent front facing phone.
$279 won’t have LTE. HSPA+ and DC-HSPA on-board
$349 with LTE
4.7 inch 1080P – $449 unlocked phone
This category is often overlooked in today’s time of huge 5 inch and phablet phones. I love my Galaxy Nexus. The size is perfect and for some reason, I have got used to the size. If Motorola can make a 4.7 inch phone that has a foot print and feels like a 4.5 inch device, that would be awesome. That is the phone I’ll have.
What is the first thing a consumer looks when he goes to buy a phone? Screen. The screen on this phone should compel the consumer to pick it up and hold it in his hand and admire it. Look at the HTC One - the screen, in my opinion is the better than any other phone on the market. Invest some time in screen calibration.
Make it colorful, not just the back plate of the device, but all edges and front too. Make the phone in aluminum and give it a very premium and sexy look. Look at Nokia N9 design, especially how they mapped the front glass to the edges. It was beautifully done. HTC 8X is a good design inspiration too.
Snapdragon 600. If Qualcomm makes a special one around 1.2 Ghz, I’ll take that. It will save more battery.
16GB is a must.
8 MP shooter with a 1.4 micron BSI. 2.1 MP front facing wide angle camera (Would be awesome with hangouts)
A killer battery life
5 inch 1080P – $549 unlocked phone
This is the phone that you want to compete against iPhone 5s/6, S4 and other high end phones.
It doesn’t matter that the other 3 categories of the phone will bring more revenues, but this phone would give you the most mileage when it comes to PR.
It goes without saying that this phone has to have a premium feeling. Enough said – You get the idea J
Snapdragon 800. If Qualcomm makes anything less than 2.3 Ghz, take it. It will save more battery.
16GB is a must.
16-20 MP shooter with a 1.1 micron BSI. 2.1 MP front facing wide angle camera (Would be awesome with hangouts)
A killer battery life
This are the 4 categories which I believe are needed for Motorola to come back in a big way. The leaks suggest there are 3 versions. I am curious to see which category they opted out for.
I can’t wait for Motorola to come back. The company that invented the phone deserves to be talked about in the same echelons as the Apples and the Samsung’s. But for that to happen, Motorola needs to deliver.
I am keeping my fingers crossed.