Should Motorola check their business practices?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| October 20, 2011

When the Motorola Spyder first broke cover, the expectations that it would be a high-profile device weren’t necessarily high, but no one thought this was going to be a bottom-rung, or even a mid-range device. We all knew, just by the way it looked with those hard corners, that Motorola was going to be swinging for the fences with this one, just as they had with all of their other high-profile devices in the past. And yet, despite that, and despite the fact that Motorola was still launching devices, we were all still excited for it. Why? Because, with the lack of an actual name, it was anyone’s guess where this particular device was headed.

That all changed with each subsequent rumor. And, with each new rumor, we were painted a pretty clear picture: this particular Motorola-branded device was headed to Verizon. Now, as has happened with every other impending device announcement, what was currently happening in the market, or what had just happened in particular, didn’t seem to matter anymore. No, as we began to learn that Motorola was getting ready to resurrect the RAZR name, we also found out that DROID was going to be tagged on there at the same time. So, another DROID device from Motorola – interesting, right?

Some of you may be asking why it’s interesting. It’s interesting because Motorola has already launched two DROID devices in less than two months (as technical as we can be here) that are nearly identical. To be specific, the Motorola DROID 3 launched on July 14th; less than two months later, we’ve got the Motorola DROID Bionic, which launched on September 8th. I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve heard that purchased the DROID 3, thinking it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, to only have been felt like they were left aside by the release of the Bionic.

More to the point, these devices aren’t all that different. I used the word identical earlier, and obviously they aren’t identical. The DROID 3 has that slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard, for instance. But, software side, we’re looking at pretty much the same device here. The DROID 3 has a 4-inch qHD display, and the Bionic has a 4.3-inch qHD display. Another difference, but if we’re looking at the Bionic as a successor in the DROID lineage, than obviously there has to be “improvements,” right? Right.

And now we’ve got the Motorola DROID RAZR, which is set to launch sometime in the early part of November. While we haven’t gotten an exact release date yet, you can bet that Verizon and Motorola are going to be marketing this thing like crazy before and during the launch, and if it does launch within the first two weeks of November, that means it’s been less than two months (again) since the launch of the Bionic. What on Earth is going on here?

Taylor asked if Motorola should have launched the Bionic at all, and that’s a remarkable question. But, it goes a bit beyond that. We’re not just looking at a device that’s already been put out to pasture less than three months since its launch – no, we’re looking at the business practice of Motorola. That’s three high-end Android-powered devices in four months. How can anyone think that’s okay? And, more to the point, how can anyone seriously be considering buying a phone with a new, two-year agreement? Especially when, if this is any indicator of Motorola’s future involvement in the market, in two months’ time there is going to be something better?

We know there’s something better coming down the pipe. We know that. But this is just ridiculous. And while I would love to say that this is all Motorola’s doing, that the full focus needs to be on them, that isn’t the case. Verizon’s DROID branding is right there, front and center, which means they knew this was coming. They knew, at least at some point, that Motorola would be releasing the DROID 3, DROID Bionic, and DROID RAZR within a four month span of time. Someone in one of those meetings should have raised their hand and spoke up, asking something along the lines of, “Shouldn’t we think of the customers?”

Yes, you should. We should never be seriously talking about any company out-right burning their customers, all in hopes of releasing the next big thing. We’ve seen others do it, and we’ve seen it come in the software variety in the past, but that doesn’t make this right. And yes, it does matter the length of time – had Motorola launched three devices in a nine month span of time that would be different. That wouldn’t be worth a discussion. But, instead, we’ve got three devices in four months, the newest one slightly (or more than slightly) better than the one before it. I think, in light of this, the question of buying a DROID RAZR or a Galaxy Nexus is a real one, and it should be weighed heavily.