We get more customization, but is it worth the cost?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
If you're a fan of the mobile industry, then events where a company removes the curtain off a hyped device are one of the best parts of the year. Whether you're a fan of the device in question or not, or even the company that builds it, we can safely say that the event itself is worth the attention. Because it's always good to get new hardware, and new software and features, out there in the wild.
When I watch an event, there's always one thing that lingers in the back of my head, right from the start of the show. I'm generally pretty excited to see any device get unveiled, even if we see all the rumors and speculation that generally ruin the whole surprise anyway. I look forward to seeing what companies have been working so hard on. More often than not, I think it was worth the time and effort.
But, there's always that one thing that I can't shake during the whole thing. It kicks in probably even a day before the event starts, because I think it's one of the most important parts of the phone -- even before we get to the phone itself. And it only gets worse the longer the show goes on, and the more features, or specifications, or whatever else the company can show off.
It's the price that has me so sidetracked during any and all events.
It's a sad state of affairs when we generally have to be ready to not get a specific price point during the announcement, but that's just something we'll have to overlook for now. Sure, it'd be nice to get release dates and price tags during the unveiling of a device, but that just doesn't happen all that often. However, for this particular article, we're going to pretend it does. Or at least it's close enough that they may as well have been announced at the same time.
During the year, we saw a lot of phones launch and we saw price tags rise and fall quite a bit. More often than not we saw the standard price get tagged to the high-end devices like HTC's One or Samsung's Galaxy S4, but there were some handsets out there that managed to break the status quo, but not necessarily for a good reason.
Motorola's Moto X, for example. I know I've said this before, but the device was too much money. And now that the sale is over, it's back to being too expensive. Of course, if you use the Moto Maker tool, then you get to design your own phone for that specific price point, so maybe Motorola thinks it's worth the higher cost to be able to build your own phone.
Is it, though? After all, the pieces aren't changing all that much. We're still using the pieces that Motorola would use, but just changing the color. The question of whether or not it's worth it will probably be answered by the sales numbers for their handset, and how many they sold during the specific time periods versus any period before or after it.
Is customization worth a higher price tag? I think that's something we're going to be faced with in 2014, too. More often than in 2013, for sure. Motorola will probably have a successor to the Moto X later next year, but they'll probably have a couple of other devices available through their Moto Maker section, too.
And let's not forget Project Ara, the effort from Motorola that takes the whole customization thing to the next level by letting customers design just about every aspect of their phone imaginable. Even from its specifications, to what it looks like in its aesthetic appeal, and all the way down to how much it costs.
Of course, just as we've seen in other markets where you're able to customize your device (like the PC), customizing how much your device costs will just come down to how much hardware you include, and how good that hardware is.
Will this effort remove any kind of premium, or any kind of perceived premium even, or just make it worse? If we're building our own smartphones in 2014 piece-by-piece, the question is: how much are you willing to pay to make that happen? Let me know what you think.