Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Motorola's Losing Strategy

Alright, I normally never critique companies like this on my blog, but this one demands that I post it.
Quoting the Wall Street Journal,
a"Motorola reported a first-quarter loss of $86 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $81 million, or 27 cents a share. "

The logo of a once great company

Now, their smartphone business was up a bit this year over last year by about 4%. And I think that is due to the fact that they released the Droid RAZR and had a pretty decent ad campaign with it.

However Motorola, you're strategy, at least in my opinion, is a losing one. Why?
You suffer the same thing that Windows Phone suffers: Lack of tech enthusiasts giving advice to get your phone.

What do I mean by that? Well, as a developer, and a tech savvy smartphone user, people ask me "What's a good phone I can buy on this carrier?". I will never, ever refer them to a Motorola Phone, because, being tech savvy, gives me an ill opinion of Motorola. No Unlocked Bootloaders. Terrible customer support (thanks for shipping me the wrong item and voiding my warranty because of it Motorola!). Releasing an upgraded phone every 32 days, screwing people over.

And if you look at XDA, a forum full of tech enthusiasts, most of them don't really like Motorola either. You are the most locked down phone maker and are probably the most developer unfriendly company out their. Samsung releases their kernels BEFORE their phones are even out. It took you like 2 months after the Atrix came out to post the kernel for that.

But some people say, "Nobody but you hackers care about unlocked bootloaders or developer support.".
And yes, that is true. But we are the people who get asked what they should get. If Motorola is going to shaft me, I sure as hell am not going to tell someone else to go give them their money.
I own an Atrix. It's an alright device. I am happy with the purchase, but the "we'll unlock the bootloaders" BS was a huge bait and switch. I was skeptical when HTC said they would make unlockable all future phones (and current ones in 2011). But HTC went well above and beyond by making nearly all of their devices unlockable, including the ancient G1.
How many Motorola devices are officially unlockable? The Xoom? Perhaps the original Droid?
HTC seems to have made a very fair compromise on the bootloader. I am willing to void my software warranty. If my volume buttons stop working though, I am pretty sure unlocking my bootloader didn't do anything to make that happen. But it seems reasonable, they are at least trying.

Your "new phone every 32 days" is also a huge reason I never recommend your phones, especially on Verizon. Buy a Bionic, get screwed by RAZR. Buy a RAZR, get screwed by RAZR MAXX. Buy a RAZR MAXX, get screwed by the likely upcoming RAZR MAXX HD. (Don't quote me on that, it might not happen).

And no, the Developer Edition Droid RAZR MAXX does not count. That is a complete bullshit "unlockable bootloader" phone. No warranty, same price, you might as well sell me a bucket of water.
Seriously. If you can cater to the developers, or hell, throw them a bone, maybe one day they will like you again.

Or you know what? See if you can make a phone that runs stock android, or almost stock, like Asus. Make it have an unlockable bootloader. Kind of make it a dev phone, like the Nexus, but not a Nexus. Nobody said you had to be the Nexus provider of the year to release a stock rom device. Have you read your facebook? And how everyone hates MotoBlur? (It's getting better - but its still... ugh)

Seriously, you never tell your community what you are doing. You told us unlockable bootloaders but that never happened, and you shot yourself in the foot. Look at your facebook comments.
 I would love to recommend you to people. You make great hardware, and some decent software. But your philosophy on screwing customers over and over will never get you more customers.
My next phone will most likely be a Samsung or HTC. But perhaps you will correct some issues to be the company that you were after the Droid came out. (but before the Droid 3)