Engineered Eloquence

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The Moto X

August 2, 2013

First off, I wanted to make it clear that I do not care about the Moto X. As far as I am concerned, the Moto X is just another Android phone. However, I think the phone is an ingenious move for a number of reasons I thought would be of interest.

Note: I will refer to Motorola as MotoGoogle from now on, unless specifically referring to Motorola and Google as separate entities within the same sentence.

Steps Forward

The Moto X is a single phone that saturates the marketplace.

  • With the way that the Moto X is constructed, MotoGoogle only needs to stock the base parts that are then combined to create the phone that the user wants. With something over 500 different possible designs, MotoGoogle has created a way for each user to get the phone they want. In addition, they have created a way to garner mindshare for a single branding identity, while obtaining the market saturation of Samsung–who currently has over 100 Android phones on the market–with a single device.1 Although the marketing isn’t off to a great start, what with all the offensive sex jokes in their copy, they have figured out a way to get what Apple has in manufacturing and what Samsung has in market saturation at the same time. No matter how you feel about the phone, you have to admit that it is a good idea. In addition, with the US-centric marketing, they have created a phone that makes the buyer patriotic by default. To quote Matthew Panzarino (and Jurassic Park), Clever girl.”

The Moto X defines itself by its lack of definition.

  • The Moto X is being marketed as a single phone for everyone, much like Apple does with its iPhone. However, where the iPhone is all about definition–in the sense that Apple makes every decision it can to simplify the user experience from soup to nuts–the Moto X is about the lack thereof. Utilizing MotoGoogle’s MotoMaker web software, the user can get as granular in the design as the startup screen text and the default wallpaper. Literally none of the outward design decisions are made; this sentiment, if marketed right, can be the beginning of the end for case manufacturers. Who needs a case when you can make your phone look exactly the way you want it? Also, (inject sarcasm here) who wants to cover the signature” on the back plate? Similarly to the choice of beige in the PCs of old, the smartphone industry has chosen black as the predominant color and that has become boring to some. If rumors are accurate and Apple comes out with colorful iPhones this fall, I have to assume we will see a similar shift away from black across the board and case makers–the ones that aren’t waterproofing or ruggedizing–should be worried.

The Moto X is the first Android phone that makes decisions.

  • Of course, this sounds a bit odd when I just discussed the fact that the Moto X has a lack of definition at the outset. One of the more interesting things about the Moto X has to be its lack of hardware upgrade options. In a world where so many Android phones go after bigger, faster, stronger, the fact that a single configuration of internal hardware exists is a step in a great direction. Someone at MotoGoogle made the choice to put these internals together, even if it is not the most powerful phone on the market. The reason why the marketing states, And now a message for our tech geeks” is the fact that the specs are unimportant to those people MotoGoogle is trying to reach. I find that the marketing, however riddled with errors and dick jokes, is succinct and well-done with regard to the important things: the design, the features, the camera.

Steps Back

Now, onto the missed opportunities, which all have to do with a single problem. The Moto X is still an OEM phone (read: just another Android phone). All the things that people hate about Android phones are still true.

  • The Operating System
    • The OS that comes on the phone is still nonstandard, Motorola specific.
    • The OS is still an old version of the Android software.
    • The phone is still beholden to carrier operating system rollout timeframes.
  • The Price/Unlocked Status
    • The phone comes with the same contract pricing.
    • There is no unlocked option or Google Play version.
  • Unanswered questions
    • What does the US-centric production and marketing mean about the phone’s availability outside of the US?
    • Is the production time (four days) realistic if this phone is actually popular?
    • Will there ever be a pure Google smartphone (in both hardware and software)?
    • From whom will this phone take mind- and marketshare?

Again, I don’t care about the Moto X. The first time I had heard of, let alone thought about, the phone was yesterday. However, the moves that MotoGoogle is making will affect the smartphone landscape, even if only in perception of the Google purchase of Motorola. The company is doing some things that I would say are courageous and Google will hopefully continue to redefine the smartphone market as they have in the past. As I said before, I am interested to see from whom this phone will steal marketshare. We shall see.



  1. If that sentiment sounds familiar, it should, because Apple releases a single phone each year and has arguably more mindshare than all Android phones on the market combined.