Motorola was the first international brand that offered quality phones at a reasonable cost in India, at a time when big smartphone makers couldn’t care less about their entry-level segment. Their Moto E and Moto G set the rules on how good cheap smartphones can be. The phones had good build quality, ran near-stock Android and also got regular OS updates. Thanks to all this, Motorola had created a lot of buzz in the market and their phones started selling like hotcakes. Sadly, a year later there is a lot of competition and the second generation of their devices may be good but not the best bang for the buck.
When Motorola announced the Moto E, no one expected it to cost so less. This Rs. 7,000 phone was ideal for first-time smartphone users or for people who do need heavy usage. Now the company has launched the Moto E 2nd Gen for the same Rs. 7,000, but this phone doesn’t seem as worth. In the past few months, there have been a lot of phones that cost the same and offer so much more. For e.g, Motorola’s parent company Lenovo launched the A6000, which is the cheapest 4G enabled phone in India. And not that the phone only has the 4G card to trump the Moto E 2nd Gen, but it also has a better 720p display and rear 8MP camera with a LED flash (surprising that the Moto E lacks this in 2015). And now even Xiaomi has the Redmi 2 which has better specs than the Moto E and goes neck-to-neck with the A6000.
The Moto G is the most selling Motorola phone ever. The 1st Gen was a runaway success and the Moto G 2nd Gen was released last year. Just like its predecessor, it sold in big numbers. But now within a few months the phone still sells at the same price. It would be great if Motorola had offered a price cut on the device as now the Yu Yureka by Micromax gives a powerhouse performance at almost Rs. 3,000 less. The Asus Zenfone 5 which was always a rival to the Moto G too cost lesser.
Moto X 2nd Gen and Moto Turbo
The Moto X 1st gen didn’t make heads turn as its specs seemed a bit outdated at launch. But still Motorola priced it well at Rs. 23,999 so that people felt that they are getting their monies worth. The 2nd Gen corrected everything though. The device had great specifications and the Rs. 30,000 price tag didn’t seem like a stretch for a high-end device. But, when you can get phones like the OnePlus One and Xiaomi Mi4 for around Rs. 10,000 cheaper, would you go in for the Moto X 2nd Gen? The same goes for the Moto Turbo which has better specifications than the Moto X 2nd Gen but may seem too expensive at Rs. 41,999. We wonder if Motorola will be able to sell the Turbo in big numbers at this price. After all, people are used to getting top-of-the-end Android phones for a lower cost. Big name phone makers like Sony, HTC and LG have in the recent past struggled to sell big numbers of their numero uno handset, so while the Turbo has many unique things going for it, its direct comparisons to the cheaper Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro or the LG G3 are imminent.
Motorola phones aren’t bad nor are they insanely priced like Apple. It’s just that people used to getting the best offers from Motorola is no longer the case. Think about it, although the Moto G and Moto E were designed to be cheap, that wasn’t the case with their prime lineup. The Moto X 1st Gen was originally a $600 smartphone when it launched in 2013 in the US, and by the time it reached India, it had received many price cuts there. That coupled with Flipkart’s aggressive attempt to get more users on their platform warranted that lucrative sub-Rs. 25,000 pricing. This, in fact, has created a certain expectation that Motorola products should be priced more aggressively than others.
It’s not helping Motorola that their competitors too are going in for the online-only distribution model that they pioneered and are creating a huge buzz for their devices using flash sales and invite systems. Also, people aren’t as brand conscious as earlier. We do not know if this is a deliberate move by Motorola to position themselves as an expensive brand. After all, their business model is different from new entrants like Xiaomi, who are committed to sell devices almost at cost by betting on making money with its accessory and content ecosystem. While these smartphone ‘startups’ are investing to grab more users, Motorola has to deal with its troubled past of monetary losses, and try its best to bounce back to profitability. Whatever it is, users are not starved for options and will just buy the phone that’s priced the best.