Motorola Mobile Spells Out 2024 Strategy, Includes New Bose Deal & Questionable Software
Motorola reminds me of that famous Avis slogan “We try harder” and if their latest numbers are anything to go by, they are certainly making an impact in the smartphone market without spending the millions the Apple and Samsung throw at the market.
12 months ago, I caught up with Ruben Castano, Head of Customer Experience & Design at Motorola, and Sudhir Chadaga, Chief Strategy Officer, of Motorola and back then the local operation which is a division of Lenovo was just hitting their straps tin an effort o build market share.
What they outlined back then, the Company has certainly delivered on, including overall global growth, despite Samsung and Apple going backwards, helping them was a new 2023 Razr foldable and several mid-market smartphones that are as good as any Android models out there. personally I also think Motorola is also delivering better value and functionality than Apple’s mid-market models.
Another standout from that briefing was the deal they cut with Pantone with their Veri Purple and Red phones proving popular, and a seriously impressive ThinkPhone that is part of Lenovo’s ThinkPad family.
Now they have cut a deal with US audio Company Bose, despite Motorola marketing their own Motorola branded buds and audio gear.
When pushed Castano did not want to open up on what’s coming from the Bose relationship.
Thou he did go as far as saying that Bose is keen on the relationship and “growing their presence in the Android eco system” as is Motorola.
This week Motorola will launch another $399 mid-market phone that comes in multiple colours.
At this stage, I cannot talk about the new device which has already been launched overseas due to Motorola insisting on journalists signing a nondisclosure for what is simply a cheap mid-market phone.
As for 2024, Samsung and their A series and any other Android brand looking to take market share are facing a problem with what is coming from Motorola, who at this stage appear to have a clear marketing strategy going forward with additional product set to be released at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in March 2024.
At Motorola it is appears that it’s not just about the product, it’s about the way they are going to go about marketing themselves, in stores, shopping centres and via some very smart pop-up shops.
While colour shape and form is, a key part of the Motorola story, the brand is still a male domain brand with Motorola management looking to expand their share of the female market, and that could come on December 7th when Pantone announce their 2024 colour of the year and I suspect will follow with a new Motorola smartphone.
One thing that does stand out is the lack of imagination from their local media advisors, who after getting journalists in front of a great presentation on their 2024 plans, then fail to deliver any images to support the new look, colour and a host of new software innovations, including some questionable features designed to track people which cannot be turned off once they have been locked in.
According to Castano the business up to September 2023, grew activations of Motorola smartphones but they are anticipating a slowdown in 2024. Despite the US based Company looking to double their volume during the next three years.
“We have to outpace the market whether it’s going up or down” Castano claimed.
When it was pointed out that they are well known for being tight with their marketing expenditure, and that their competitors in particular Apple and Samsung are tipping tens of millions into the market to grow share, he said “We have been able to achieve growth where these brands compete” he said.
He gave as an example Latin America, where the brand is #2 in the LABTM market behind Samsung but ahead of Apple.
“Our competitors over spend in this market but despite this we have taken share.”
He said that the reason that they have achieved success up against Apple and Samsung is “The product.”
“Like in Australia we are connecting with consumers via other channels” he said.
He claims that the launch of the $1,499 Motorola Razr which competes with Samsung’s Galaxy Flip and the launch of a premium $999 mobile, has pushed the brand further into the premium market with the Company appearing to be working on a clear premium strategy going forward.
Kurt Bonnici the General Manager of Motorola’s operation said, “Several brands have exited the Australian smartphone market, and we are now seeing some interesting strategies coming out of our traditional competitor.”
“I believe that the time is now right for us to double down. I have tasked our team to overdrive our business across all the categories we compete in” he said.
Motorola’s claim that their mid-range models are giving brands such as Samsung with their A series, and Oppo who have been forced out of the premium market and are now going head to head with Motorola in the value market, appear to have substance despite several brands claiming that they are #3 in the market after Samsung and Apple.
Recently Motorola took over key instore space at JB Hi Fi stores, previously assigned to Oppo who have been losing double digit market share for the past 18 months and were not prepared to invest in the band anymore.
In 2024 Motorola is looking to not only expand their hardware offering but introduce new software which they are calling consumer solutions which they claim consumers want to manage their lives in a technical or digital world.
Among the initiatives is a complete new Ui and software interfaces.
“Consumers don’t want to be told what’s best for them. We will put a story out there and it’s up to consumers as to whether they trust us”.
Castano believes that Motorola is well positioned to compete “On price, specs and time to market for new models” he said.
“On top of this we need to populate our range with good design, style. We need to be a fashionable brand that’s desirable”.
“A mobile phone today is all about “self-expression” he claimed.
He said that the decision to align with Pantone when it comes to fashionable colours was working but he did not explain why more men than women are buying into the Motorola marketing formula where colour is playing a key role in their marketing execution.
He said that in 2024 Motorola is targeting a different age group than what they currently attract without giving out any information on which market is currently not buying a Motorola smartphone.
As for software and what’s under the bonnet of a Motorola smartphone there are has some interesting initiatives coming in 2024, some that I suspect are going to cause angst between parents and children and in some cases between husband and wife whose movements Motorola is looking to allow family members to track without any off button once its been activated.
Family Spaces is software that allows parents to lock in other family members so that they can be tracked 24/7 the bad news is people being tracked won’t be able to turn off being tracked tracker and if location tracker built into the Android OS the administrator will get an alert.
Parents or an administrator will also be able to disable devices for set periods of time.
Castano describes the new initiatives as “software experiences” in an effort to differentiate Motorola smartphones from the pack.
“What we are trying to do is personalise the device so that it is yours” he said.
He said that the software is also designed to track grand parents some who may be elderly and that the software will have its own security encryption for the protection of information.
The new software will be rolled out across the entire Motorola range and for iOS devices so that people who don’t have a Motorola smartphone can be tracked.
Motorola is also stepping into the world of workflow and managing people who simple cannot stop picking up their smartphone every few minutes because they fear missing out on something or notifications.
New software will allow them to better prioritise information flow to a device.
Castano believes that the mobile phone today is a lot more than a device for making calls and getting messages “It’s about capturing, creating and consuming content”. Which is why Motorola is now making content software a key part of their 2024 initiatives.
He claims that key to this is the camera and the display without giving away any other information.
As for 2024 marketplace conditions he claims that Motorola is in a good space and growing and that management are confident that the changes coming next year will set the brand apart from the likes of Apple, Samsung and the likes of Nokia and Oppo.
As for the Avis slogan “We try harder” the business went from second to #1 because they listened to customer,s and incentivised them when things went wrong. The strategy not only helped them build a brand without having to spend millions on marketing.
ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach was able to turn being number two into the best argument for better service. In the case of Motorola it’s a better smartphone.
And in a world where being number one was the only acceptable position to be in, it was both brilliant and revolutionary and above all it worked.
What followed was a masterclass in copy crafting and strategic audacity, as Avis and DDB were able to contextualise the many ways being number two made them better than being number one.
Maybe there is a lesson for Motorola who are well positioned to strip share from both Samsung and Oppo in the Android market.