Motorola, the company credited with the first cellular phone, the blockbuster Razr, and the endearing Verizon Droid line will soon be organized quite differently than it is today. At the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday, parent company Lenovo announced that it will begin phasing out the iconic brand later this year as it moves to unify its products under a single, discernible roof.
The move comes more than a year after Lenovo acquired Motorola Mobility in 2014. In an interview with CNet, Motorola Chief Operating Officer Rick Osterloh said that Motorola’s high-end Moto line of smartphones and wearables and budget Vibe brand will live on for the foreseeable future. “We’ll slowly phase out Motorola and focus on Moto,” he said.
The aesthetic changes will be palpable. Future Motorola phones will still carry Motorola’s familiar “M” logo, but also feature Lenovo’s blue logo “prominently,” according to Osterloh. It’s a dilution that runs counter to Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing’s promise following the company’s purchase of Motorola in 2014. “It’s our treasure,” he said at the time. “We plan not only to protect the Motorola brand, but make it stronger.”
But the rebranding isn’t exactly unprecedented. The Motorola brand may carry less influence than it once did — in Brand-Finance’s 2014 list of the world’s most valuable brands, Motorola Mobility ranked 219. And the firm’s struggled to stay abreast of the competition in terms of sales. According to market research firm ComScore, the company commanded just 5.3 percent of the global smartphone market in November behind LG, Samsung, and Apple.
But the news isn’t all bittersweet. As was announced in August of last year, Lenovo employees under the Motorola umbrella will soon assume operations of the parent company’s phone business. Specifically, Lenovo intends to introduce the Moto brand as a premium line in countries where it’s well established, while the Motorola division will compete with low-cost smartphone makers in developing nations with its Vibe handsets. Osterloh told CNet that the Vibe line will likely extend to the U.S. in the next few years.
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