In an effort to clear up confusion about Motorola’s new branding after its acquisition — “Moto by Lenovo” — Motorola president, Rick Osterloh, held a Q&A with Digital Trends and a few other publications to discuss the future of the Moto brand. The message was, at times, clear: the Moto brand is not disappearing, but it is now only one of many Lenovo brands, like Vibe, Yoga, ThinkPad, and others.
Say hello to the new Moto
Moto is now one of two major Lenovo smartphone brands. All high-end phones going forward will be branded Lenovo Moto and carry the familiar batwings M logo, and the Lenovo Vibe brand will retain its prominence in China, and serve as a budget brand in most countries.
All high-end phones going forward will be branded Lenovo Moto and carry the familiar batwings M logo
Moto was described as the trend-setting innovation brand, attracting sophisticated smartphone buyers, while the Vibe brand attracts more of the first-time smartphone owners and folks who seek out lower prices or don’t care about high-end features.
Internally at Lenovo though, the old Motorola company is running all of mobile these days. The companies have been gradually merging to a greater extent, it was made clear that the Moto team would continue to be the engine driving new smartphone and wearable designs, no matter the brand, much like Pixar now helps run a variety of Disney divisions after its purchase, but still releases its own Pixar-branded movies.
But other than taking on new brands and working with Lenovo’s Chinese teams, “there’s basically no change from what we were doing with Google,” Osterloh suggested. Though, he did talk about the advantages of working together with Lenovo, such as in-house factories, greater joint-buying power to bring prices down and gain access to the latest technologies, and the wider scale and reach of the Chinese manufacturer. The word “synergy” was uttered at least a dozen times.
Moto G and Moto E are here to stay
Osterloh also reiterated that the cheap and affordable Moto G and Moto E lines will continue even though the role of budget phone is being taken over by the Vibe brand in many regions. There are no plans to bring the Vibe range to the U.S. right not, but he didn’t rule that out in the future.
“Price points in the U.S. are finding new lows,” Osterloh told us. “Lower priced phones are getting better and better and better.”
He didn’t seem concerned about any conflict, using a popular retail clothing chain as an example: “Gap and Banana Republic have overlapping price points too.”
The company returned to profitability last quarter and has been making serious gains in markets like Brazil, Mexico, and India. The big target going forward, though, is the world’s largest smartphone market: China. Osterloh is hoping Lenovo can help Motorola make inroads into the high-end market in Europe, too.
A better, richer Moto Maker
One exciting revelation from Osterloh concerned Motorola’s commitment to customization with Moto Maker, an online website that lets you customize your Motorola phones to be different colors and finishes. He suggested the program may even expand in its reach to enable people to customize the hardware (for example, screen sizes or processors) inside Moto phones and not just the look. The platform will also come to more Moto phones and more countries around the world in the coming months, and years, as well.
We can also expect to see more wearables from Moto in the future, but all tablets will be branded under the Lenovo name.
In a final, somewhat confusing, move, we were told that even though the upcoming Lenovo Tango phone, which has advanced motion-detecting capabilities that clearly seem on-target for Motorola, it may not fall under the Moto brand.
After the Q&A session ended, we left happy that the Moto X, G, and E phones will continue, along with the Verizon Droid phones, but sad about the future of Motorola. Once a titan of the phone world, it is now mainly a brand buzzword — one of Lenovo’s 6+ mobile brands. It’s on the same level as Vibe, Yoga ThinkPad, Phab, and Medion.