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How Motorola’s new smartphones and watch could impact global markets

Sep 05, 20145 mins

Motorola embraces global markets with announcement timed for North America, Europe, and India.

At 2:00 a.m. EST today, Motorola’s product announcement went live to give equal attention to mature and emerging markets. The timing of the announcement is indicative of Motorola’s aspirations to increase its brand throughout the world with Lenovo. Asked about what the acquisition by Lenovo will mean, William Moss, Motorola Director of Corporate and International Communication, said:

“The Lenovo acquisition isn’t complete yet. It is still undergoing regulatory review, and we expect it to close within this year. We’re excited about the acquisition. Lenovo has been very clear about their commitment to our strategy, brand and talent, and as a combined operation we’ll have global scale and reach.”

Motorola reinvented itself as part of Google. It took its historical engineering and design advantages and built the Moto X, which was widely recognized for solid voice recognition and for low-power and very accessible screen notifications that haven’t been duplicated. Most notable, the Moto X sidestepped the “mee too” hero phone competition that snared Samsung, HTC, and LG in lock-steps, to claim the most powerful smartphone title. The Moto X gave the consumer a differentiated experience with a better user interface with stock Android, using hardware that was fast enough but still affordable.

Moto X 2nd Generation – The display is updated to a larger 5.2 inches, 1080×1920 pixels (424 ppi), and   2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 with a quad-core CPU. These are hero phone specs, but Motorola prefers to extol its improved voice control and consumer choice of Moto Maker, which lets consumers design their own devices like Nike’s customers design their own sneakers.

Voice commands have been extended beyond Google Now. New Moto X commands can post to Facebook, send What’sApp messages, and launch YouTube playlists. The user can replace the “OK Google Now” prompt with whatever they choose to wake up the phone and execute a wider range of commands.

The Moto X is affordably priced: $99.99 with a two-year contract and $499.99 without a carrier contract.

Moto G 2nd Generation – The Moto G, the best-selling smartphone in Motorola’s history, also has a larger display, updated to 5 inches, 720×1280-pixels (294 ppi) resolution, and new integrated stereo speakers. Users can customize the back cover with 15 color choices. Starting at the same $179.99 price for an 8GB RAM device, an SD slot, 4G LTE and stock Android Kitkat, the Moto G should retain the consumer interest of its predecessor.

Motorola Hint Earbud – It’s embarrassing to be in a meeting or social setting having forgotten to remove one’s Bluetooth headset. The Hint is far less obtrusive than other headsets and comes in a variety of colors. Not only does the Hint look less dorky, it also relieves the wearer from the “one more wearable” stigma; recharging computers, smartphones, smartwatches, Google Glass, and whatever new wearable yet to be announced has exceeded the acceptable level of annoyance from personal devices. Pretty soon, users will need a personal smart grid to power the personal wearable cloud.

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Graciously, the Hint case holds two additional 10-hour charges in the wearer’s pocket, eliminating this dilemma. The Hint costs $149.99, not too high a premium for relief from dorkiness and freedom from frequent recharges.

Moto 360 smartwatch now for sale – Except for the round-faced LG G Watch R, the Motorola 360 is the only smartwatch that looks like a watch. It runs Android Wear and includes a pedometer and heart rate monitor. Thankfully for its users, the Moto 360 includes a wireless bedside or desk-side wireless recharger, easing the one-more-wearable thing to recharge dilemma.

The Moto 360 is available for $249.99 on Motorola’s website later today and at Best Buy stores.

Motorola’s introduction was timed today for the world to take notice. On sale today in North America now and soon available in most of South America, Europe, and Asia, the worldwide release is a sign of the importance of building a global brand footprint. How the products sell in each of the country market is hard to predict. One can guess that the Moto G 2nd generation will sell well everywhere. The Moto X may not sell as well in developing markets as compared to mature markets, but it will sell. After all, Apple’s iPhone sells at a premium for its high U.S. price in developing markets. With Lenovo’s supply chain logistics and distribution, Motorola’s brand will generate more sales after the merger is complete.

It’ll be interesting to see how consumers accept the Moto 360. It is one of the few smartwatches that doesn’t set off a “nerd alert”; it actually looks like a high-quality wristwatch. The New York Times reported yesterday from the Berlin IFA consumer electronics show that 3% of Americans and only 1% of Germans owned smartwatches. The Moto 360 could help boost this so-far low smartwatch penetration because wearers can enjoy the features of a smartwatch without the judgment from their peers.


Steven Max Patterson lives in Boston and San Francisco where he follows and writes about trends in software development platforms, mobile, IoT, wearables and next generation television. His writing is influenced by his 20 years' experience covering or working in the primordial ooze of tech startups.