Motorola...The Ideas, The Timing, and the Exceution

Fellow Verge user elliot.hlyton write a post about the Motorola Atrix and it's WebTop interface, speculating if Motorola got this right. Now In my opinion, due to the mere fact it no longer exist, something really went wrong, but I'm not going to comment on that here.

That post did make me think about Motorola in general and their long history in this industry. Those of us who can remember to the times before the iPhone, when I was in grad school are keenly aware of whole powerful Motorola was on the handset side. This got me thinking to how good some of Motorola's ideas where between between the onset of the iPhone and now, and just how either the technology or timing at the time was not in Motorola's favor.

What the Hell Just Happened?

To begin you really have to start 2 years prior to the iPhone, the first time Motorola crossed passed with Apple, but this time it was as partners.

Motorola iTunes ROKR

The Motorola Rokr for those of you who remember, was that first phone that had iTunes built in. For the first time people did not need to carry a phone and an iPod around, it was all in one. Now for those of you who read the DogFight book, you kind of how this ended, but this was a First for any OEM, A Good idea. The problem with this device, however was just the simple fact neither iTunes or cell phone technology were ready to merge. The device was ugly, and had too software many problems, and was just a pain to deal with. I remember my girlfriend at the time wanted me to sync her sister Rokr with her iTunes account and the experience was just horrible. Good idea, bad execution.

So the iPhone came out in 2007, and basically changed the way we look at smartphones. It was no longer the Blackberry qwerty style device that folks wanted it was a full touch screen device with a built in app store. In addition it opened up the smartphone market to millions of regular consumers...effectively pushing giants like Blackberry and Windows out to the side.

Motorola Gets it Right

So as we know Android then came along in 2008 with the G1, which did ok...for what it was, but it was no "iPhone Killer" as many tech sites liked to say at the time. iPhones were selling like hot cakes and Motorola...needed to do something. In comes the infamous Droid.

Now I will have to say this is the one device, where I feel Motorola got most of everything it right. Motorola looked at the iPhone which had been out for almost 2 years and developed a device completely counter to the iPhone. They made both a Touch Screen and Qwerty Keyboard, they made it more edgy in design, and they used Android in it's purest phone. And finally they brought to Verizon to go head to head with the iPhone on ATT. I would almost say the Droid was the first Google Play Edition Device. If anything the Original Motorola Droid, is what was the real catalyst for the insane growth of Android. Good Idea, Good Timing, Good Execution

So what Happened

With the Droid, I'm sure Motorola was on cloud 9. I mean who wouldn't. For the first time there is actually a phone that could go head to head with the iPhone. But as we know that was short lived. Samsung came into the picture shortly there after with their Galaxy S and basically started their insane rise in the Android space. What was Motorola's answer? An crap load of devices. We have the Droid 2, the Droid X, In my opinion this was a perfect example of not being able to focus. Not being able to really decide on what device you want to put all your marketing dollars behind. In addition while Droid was becoming a great brand, the marketing behind it was getting style. However, with Verizon owning the Droid brand and allowing HTC to get in on the Droid party, this created an identity issue for Motorola.

Motorola then tried to reinvent itself around the Atrix. Which basically ad a lot going for it. It was innovative for its time. It had a fingerprint reader and it had a docking capability to allow laptop like computing. Good Ideas right? Sure but the technology was just not read at this time, which ultimately led to bad execution, and for Motorola to scrap those features in the next revision. Fast forward to 2013 only to be bested by Apple's finger print reader using technology from the same company that built theirs. In addition with Chrome OS and Ubuntu on Android being a more viable OS to do work, the docking technology has come a long way since 2010.

Motorola Re Invents Themselves


So with the Google purchasing a struggling Motorola, we are now seeing Motorola 2.0. The Moto X and Moto G smart phones were the first in regards to how Motorola was going to get their Mojo back. Great phones, great innovation, what else can go wrong? Well Bad marketing and a crowded smartphone space would be the thing that makes or breaks you. While the Moto X was universally lauded as one of the best Android phones, Samsung had grown itself into a behemoth and Motorola was going to have a serious task competing with them. The timing on this one was just not right. However, Motorola got something right on the timing space.

While companies are racing to corner the market with their wearables, and Apple waits to "fix" what everyone else has done wrong. Motorola made a interesting move. The Moto 360 is the smartwatch which seems to have a chance to redefine the category if done correctly. Time will tell how Motorola executes on this product, by in my opinion things are looking good.