Why Motorola bringing Lenovo’s laptop strategy to smartphones is not the right move
New models in the C, E, G, X, and Z series will confound potential customers.
Motorola has a clearly-defined strategy for its smartphones: the Moto E series is aimed at the entry-level segment, the Moto G lineup is catered to the budget category, and the Moto X and Z phones traditionally serve the mid-range and high-end segments. However, a recent leak suggests that the company is getting ready to significantly expand its smartphone lineup in 2017.
The list includes the mid-range Moto Z2 Play and high-end Z2 Force with Moto Mods support, a mid-range Moto X with a Full HD display and so-called SmartCam, new entrants in the Moto E series, and the introduction of an "Ultimate Essentials" Moto C series that starts at €89.
Inexplicably, it looks like Motorola is getting ready to launch a refreshed variant of the Moto G5 with dual rear cameras. The Moto G5 Plus made its debut back in March, with the 12MP imaging sensor being one of its main highlights. The leak suggests Motorola is increasing the screen sizes — the Moto GS will come with a 5.2-inch panel (up from a 5-inch panel on the Moto G5), and the GS+ will allegedly feature a 5.5-inch screen (up from 5.2 inches).
According to the leak, Motorola will release no fewer than nine phones later this year, which will lead to a crowded lineup. We've already seen that to a certain extent last year in Asian markets with the Moto M and Moto G, which were positioned in the same segment. The only differentiator with the Moto M was the metal chassis, and although a successor to the Moto M wasn't detailed in the leak above, it is possible we'll hear more about the device at a later date. It's also odd that there doesn't appear to be a regular Moto Z in the lineup — the Moto Mods functionality will be limited to the Moto Z2 Play (which may be a downgrade over the first) and the more expensive Moto Z2 Force.
With nine new models on the horizon, Motorola will face a tough time of rolling out quick updates.
Lenovo has a habit of rolling out devices aimed at a particular niche — we've seen that over the last two years with the Vibe C, the Vibe X, Vibe S, and the Vibe P. Motorola is now following in its parent company's footsteps, and the reasoning for that may come down to Lenovo's newfound strategy for the smartphone segment. It's possible the company will find cost savings by sharing components and designs throughout its varied product range, though, but to most consumers this will be confusing.
After toying with the "Moto by Lenovo" branding last year, Lenovo is now leveraging the Motorola brand more effectively in global markets. The manufacturer revealed earlier this year that although it would continue a dual-brand strategy, Motorola's brand name would take precedence in markets like India, where the manufacturer sells phones under both labels.
The move makes sense from Lenovo's standpoint — with the company scaling back its own offerings, the onus is now on Motorola to roll out new phones to fill that void. Judging by the positioning of the new Moto E and Moto C series, that's exactly what Motorola is doing.
The Moto C is now official, offering a 5-inch FWVGA display, quad-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, 8GB storage, 5MP camera, 2MP front shooter, 3G, and 2350mAh battery for €89. There's a Moto C Plus with a larger screen and 4000mAh battery along with 1GB of RAM and 16GB storage that will retail for €119. The Moto E refresh for 2017 is likely to retail for $150, adding a fingerprint sensor and beefier specs.
By introducing several new models at once, Motorola is making it harder for itself when it comes to rolling out updates. The company isn't as quick as it used to be at delivering software updates, and in the case of a few phones like the Moto G 2015 and Moto E3 Power, the company decided not to offer an update at all. By introducing at least nine new models this year, Motorola will be significantly taxing its engineering resources as it tries to keep its portfolio of devices up to date.
What's your take on Motorola's revised smartphone strategy? Let us know in the comments below.