Less is more, Motorola

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: September 10, 2012

This weekend, I finally got a chance to relax and recover from the craziness last week. (I'm definitely not used to the press event grind yet. It was extremely fun, stressful and hectic all at once.) But between my Battlefield 3 binge, cleaning and cooking a bit yesterday, I had a thought I couldn't shake. And seeing as I no longer write on weekends, I had to wait until this morning to write about it.

On Wednesday, Motorola and Verizon teamed up to announce some new handsets. Going into the event, we assumed there would be one, maybe two new phones. We expected the DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR M. There had also been talk of a DROID RAZR MAXX HD. But based on the RAZR MAXX from earlier this year, I assumed if there was going to be a RAZR MAXX HD, Motorola would stagger the release again and not dedicate any specific announcement to it.

I was wrong. We all were to an extent. Motorola took the stage and – as I explained on Thursday – hit us with three big announcements in a matter of just a few minutes. And then there was chaos. All three of the rumored DROID RAZRs were announced: DROID RAZR M, DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR MAXX HD.

Just as Motorola and Verizon ran the DROID name into the ground, effectively killing any real meaning to the brand, they have done the exact same to RAZR in less than a year's time. Neither stand for superiority or excellence as the two companies seem to believe. DROID and RAZR simply stand for "another Motorola [and sometimes HTC] phone headed to Verizon."

That bit gets me to my point. Has Motorola not learned anything over the last two years? Where HTC and Samsung appear to have learned that fewer handsets can go a long way, Motorola continues to churn out entirely too many handsets that quickly cannibalize one another.

Case in point: why would anyone want the DROID RAZR HD over the DROID RAZR MAXX HD? Because it's slimmer by less than a millimeter? Other than thickness, the DROID RAZR MAXX HD is better in every way. It has 770mAh more in its battery, double the built-in storage (32Gb versus 16GB, both have micro SD card slots), the same processor, the same display, the same amount of RAM, etc.

Why do consumers need both of these phones, Motorola? Verizon? Because choice is better? Maybe for some. But this isn't the automotive industry. Too much choice can quickly turn into a bad thing.

Releasing more phones means both the manufacturer and carrier will have to work harder to keep all the phones up to date – something every Android manufacturer is struggling to do right now. And judging by the fact that not one of the the three devices announced by Motorola last week will launch with Jelly Bean on board, Motorola doesn't appear to be any better about it now despite being a Google property.

I simply cannot wrap my head around why anyone ever thought three new Verizon devices by Motorola before the holiday season was a good idea. And I'm not the only one. When I was waiting to shoot video following the event, I heard several colleagues ask Motorola workers, "Why do consumers need both the DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR MAXX HD?"

I was also thinking, "Why not make the DROID RAZR M and DROID RAZR HD one in the same?" and, "Why not kill the DROID RAZR HD for the noticeably better MAXX?" A super thin phone with an "edge-to-edge" display (the DROID RAZR M does not have an edge-to-edge display, by the way) for $99.

I can understand the need for a budget phone and I can understand having a flagship. Maybe Motorola and Verizon were trying to hit all three major price points. Considering the DROID RAZR M is $99, I imagine the DROID RAZR HD will be $199 and the DROID RAZR MAXX HD will be $299. But even then it still doesn't make sense. The DROID RAZR M is good enough to be a mid-range device for the price of a budget phone, and the MAXX HD is undoubtedly the flagship. Rarely, however, do you hear anyone say, "I like the phone that's still expensive but isn't the best of the best." (In this case, that device would be the DROID RAZR HD.)

Maybe I'm just cynical and not seeing the bigger picture here. But I cannot seem to understand why Motorola and Verizon feel the need to bring consumers even more devices. By adding the DROID RAZR M, they have already begun to dilute the brand. RAZR should have been reserved for only their best handsets, the innovative and revolutionary ones. Clearly, that is not the case and Motorola has yet to learn any valuable lesson.

Take cues from your closest competitors, Moto. Less is more. Save yourself some effort and consolidate, bring fewer phones to market and let's work on getting what you already have and the new devices updated to the current version of Android.

Tell me, readers. Do any of you feel compelled to buy the DROID RAZR HD over, say, the DROID RAZR MAXX HD? Do you feel moved by any of Motorola's recently announced handsets? Do you think they need to consolidate and follow in the footsteps of their competitors by making fewer devices?