Variety is what makes the smartphone market as competitive as it is. No matter how you swype it, certain folks prefer certain strokes of the keyboard. Nearly every manufacturer has tried to get in on the action as of late. Prying away at Samsung's stellar lead in the Android realm has proven a daunting task for everyone else. But Motorola has been absent in the race to your face and pocket for so long that it's nearing a point where I'm wondering if they have a back-up plan if rumors of Google's loss of interest in the X Phone project turn out to be true.
I sure hope it is just a case of ravenous gossip because Motorola has proven their hardware can rival the best in the smartphone market. While Apple was selling its one millionth iPod in 2003, Motorola was setting up its slamdunk clamshell masterpiece for sales glory, the original Razr. Over its four year tenure, the Razr and its variants sold 130 million devices - a record that remains in this form factor. With its external glass screen, slender build, and electroluminescent keypad, the Razr became an icon and even spawned its own brand later down the road.
Along the way, Motorola has seen much success with its DROID handsets a la Verizon, too. They continued their pledge to a sturdy construction with what (at the time) seemed like a trivial addition to its RAZR line - a Kevlar back - which has become a selling point of their devices.
However, Motorola now finds itself without a flagship smartphone on any carrier since early of last year. And in mobile, their flagship smartphones are nearing memento status. In fact, their lack of devices on carriers is really hard to believe seeing how much of a role they played just ten years ago.
Without dwelling too much into the past, Motorola's diligence at what it did best with its original Razr is what mobile needs right now. No one questioned its build; they lauded it. Not a soul was worried about its technology; it had two LCD panels. It had solid cellular reception and held a charge for long enough to avoid raising flags. At the time of its launch, it turned heads with these traits, and I believe Moto could also reassert itself as a leader if it delivered a device with as solid an overall package as it has in the past.
Apple, Samsung, and only recently, HTC, are the only manufacturers to offer a single device on all (with HTC's One absent on Verizon) carriers. These are top-tier hero devices. For a smartphone afficionado, these flagships have a presence like Gatsby. And Motorola is on its way to doing the same with its X Phone. But as you've gathered, Motorola's X Phone is likely far off from a hero device with its rumored 720p panel and dual-core processor. Yet a variation of the X Phone has passed through the FCC for all major carriers in The States less T-Mobile.
What I find most interesting about the possibility of a Motorola device with mediocre specs on three out of four major carriers in the U.S. is its target market. This is presumably a mid to upper-mid range device not meant to challenge the reigning kings of Android: the Galaxy S 4 and HTC One. It's almost safe to bet that Moto will be below the subsidized price points of both HTC and Samsung's offerings, too.
So, what would Motorola do for mobile right now?
Believe it or not, there's a heated battle for the third place role of Android manufacturers in the U.S., and in the world, it's just as close. At the end of the day, it's Motorola, LG, and HTC who are vying for third place in the Android realm no matter your opinion of any of them. It's anyone's for the taking.
And Android is what Motorola is committed to.
Whether by miracle or spontaneity, Motorola Mobility gave into Google's $12.5 billion purchase just a year ago, and rumors of their device have ebbed and flowed so much I could have rumor vertigo.
Android has made it a point to solidify their presence in the latest Motorola smartphones running their custom UI. The days of Motoblur have long gone, but do people really want as close to a stock experience of Android on their smartphones?
Google has taken it to heart and released a Samsung "Google Edition" Galaxy S 4, and there are rumors (from the same source at Geek.com) that HTC is also nearing a release for their One with Jelly Bean aboard.
So, if Motorola has been paying attention (and it's likely they are seeing that Google is behind the wheel), they ought to know how valuable stock Android can become with each Google Edition smartphone. As much as Android may seem unintuitive or tough to learn, it's at the forefront of mobile right now, and with Motorola's UI tweaks including quick settings, toggles, and sweet home screen widgets, it might be just what Android needs to convince consumers of the speediness of the stock Android experience.
Android smartphones may be everywhere, and although I've been a fan for a while, I'm really getting tired of hearing the same arguments.
While HTC and Samsung are bickering over build quality, I'm thrilled Motorola will soon be in the mix with its rubberized backings and creak-less construction. Motorola might be sitting in fourth place in total U.S. subscribers according to comScore, but they've done so with relatively little exposure.
Imagine what a little bit of marketing could do for the calm, cool, and until recently, coy, Motorola if they had another recipe like the original Razr.
What is your favorite Motorola smartphone? Do you feel there's a place left for Motorola in 2013? Let me know in the comment boxes!