Opinion

Does Moto-X show a broken manufacturing paradigm?


Yesterday, Motorola (A Google Company) released their much-hyped Moto-X handset.

And boy, does it look amazing.

However, there is no UK or European release date yet set – proving that the manufacturing paradigm is seriously flawed.  And, in the coming age of 3d printing, outdated as well.

I’ll be honest, I need a new handset.  My current contract expires on 12 August, so I was rather invested in the idea that I’d get my hands on the gorgeous Moto-X.  But no.  And I’m rather pissed off about it.

Manufacturers need to move beyond domestic market aspirations.

Back ‘in the day’, let’s say early 90’s when the internet was still capitalised and when films took the best part of a year to go from silver screen to living room, you could get away with advertising and supplying a product domestically.

At this point, information would leak into other territories, but it would take days.  Weeks, maybe.  And even then, only the most devout fan would probably find out.

An ad in the New York Times probably wouldn’t make its way onto the breakfast table of someone in London.  Or even a bumpkin backwater like Worthing, where I live.

But now, in the age of global village-dom and large scale connectivity, that ad, or video or whatever, does.

It travels faster than a speeding proton around the web, drumming up demand across the globe.

Good for the product, bad for the consumer.

Because, if you take a stance like Motorola’s, you’re going to get a lot of consumers living in second-rate nations like the UK (we must be second-rate, why else can’t we play with cool stuff?) who get all hyped up before deflating like a soggy balloon when our demand – our desire – isn’t fulfilled.

By the time we get to play with the cool stuff, the domestic market have had their grubby paws all over it for months – maybe years – so it’s no longer new, no longer shiny, and there’s no joy of discovery any more.

Manufacturers need to think globally, especially in the tech market.

Domesticity for desirable products doesn’t exist any more.

The promotional paradigm has changed – and modern manufacturing doesn’t seem to have realised this.

You can’t have a global conversation and a local supply any more.

If you want to be truly successful, you’ve got to plan your territory roll-out and be up front about it.  Otherwise those overseas territories?  They’re going to go somewhere else.

Like me, in this specific instance.

Had Motorola said that they were bringing the handset to the UK on a specific date, I would have something to work to, something to factor into my considerations.  Do I upgrade now, or hang on for what I actually want until that specified date?

UPDATE – I have been educated by a friend as to the difficulty faced by manufacturers in getting a handset onto a carrier.
OK, so maybe I didn’t quite realise the gazillion hoops that needed jumping through. But some idea that the brand was trying would be nice.

As it is, Motorola have failed me as a consumer.

Someone who was ready to lay down cash to get the new handset.

Instead, I’m going somewhere else.  Tough.

And now, with my futurologist’s hat on…

The manufacturing paradigm is only going to get worse.

In the coming age of 3d printing, local production will be uneconomical, ineffective and unacceptable.

When a new product is launched, I predict that we’ll be downloading the specs, running them into our 3d printers and getting what we want – how we want it – in our hands in hours.  We’ll then plug it into the internet and – whoosh – the OS, apps etc will magically fly onto it.

No more waiting around.  No more territorialisation.

What we want, when we want it.  At a higher profit margin for the originator too, I shouldn’t wonder.

That’ll be the day…

Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.

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7 thoughts on “Does Moto-X show a broken manufacturing paradigm?

  1. You and your friend are both right …

    Global releases of phones are a nightmare, with a myriad of technical and legislative approvals for the kit, not to mention the challenge coordinating expensive global launches and estimating global supply levels. That is before we get into the discussions with carriers about support arrangements and channel management.

    Most US Headquartered ‘global’ companies launch in the US because apart from it being a huge market, it is essential to have a ‘home’ success for it to be judged a success. If a product is successful around the world, but fails in the US, then the US media and analysts judge it a failure. If it is a success in the US, then it will be guaranteed good media coverage globally and hopefully create demand which can then be serviced once the US plan is on track. So the plan will be to meet US demand (no waiting times for customers), then prepare for global launches. Of course, if the product fails in the US, then the global release never happens. Even if it is a success, other countries may need to wait until a later release to get their hands on it as competitors don’t wait and the original product is not what it was.

    You are not alone in being frustrated – a remember a senior government minister tackling a global (US) CEO about products not being available in his country when they were launched in the US. The CEO gave a good reply, but the truth was that only the US matters. Once once US need is met will companies look globally. Some companies can manage global releases simultaneously, but these take a lot of confidence and deep pockets. When you look deeper, even global announcements are masking staggered availability dates.

    Google will still win though – because the operating system is available to agile 3rd parties who are better placed to understand and meet local market needs at a price they can afford. The 3d world is closer than you think …

    • Hey Gary

      Thanks for the comment – and the link (most interesting reading).

      I do understand a little more now about the specific complexities of the phone market, esp with carriers and launches.

      But – I am looking at this from the consumer POV (as well as the marketing one). And the consumer inside me wants what I can’t have. Which is a deep problem.

      I doubt many consumers are either aware of – or care about – the complexities of the carrier network and so on. What we see is a product which, although it hasn’t been marketed globally, is getting a lot of global hype.

      Even with newly discovered understanding of the trials/tribulations of the meta market, I find that I simply don’t care – my lizard brain wants what it wants and, frustrated, is now sniffing out something else.

      I agree with you about the staggered availability dates – now that, I could cope with. But at the last time of looking properly, nothing.
      Even if Motorola had set a target date of 1 Jan, that would be better than nothing. But they haven’t. Which is an interesting situation.

      Neil

  2. I was looking forward to the Moto X too, had a lot going for it. Disappointing their PR team fired out all these leaked photos and specifications but then reveal post launch it’s an Americas only phone. A lot of people in Europe were talking about this.

    Looks like they’re getting made in the US to ensure lead times aren’t crazily high for customised handsets and shipping to Europe from the US takes almost as long as China to the US.

    Maybe if it goes well they will open up a European manufacturing plant. According to their spokesperson “they haven’t given up on Europe” but does that mean they are bringing out something better for us, or just a less configurable version of the Moto X?

    Either way, it’s already lost it’s appeal to me.

  3. When an accident victim arrived at University Hospital Coventry last year with a badly crushed pelvis, doctors got straight on the phone to the nearby Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG). They asked engineers there to create a model of the patient’s pelvis from a CT scan using 3D printing technology. Their work allowed surgeons to plan and conduct the necessary operation more quickly.

  4. I don’t know how I feel about Moto-X, even as an American with easy access to owning one. Of course, being a lover of all things Google, I was completely excited for Google’s first “real” handset produced under Motorola, particularly because of my dislike for Motorola before it was under Google ownership. Google’s social campaigning for the Moto-X has been heavily, plastering ads all over Facebook, and even making interactive appearances on Youtube. Now that its been in the market…at least here in America… for a while, here are somethings I’ve noticed:

    1) its not terribly popular from what I can tell. Consumers are still so wrapped up in the Samsung vs Apple pride that the debate within itself creates sufficient interest in either product. Most of my friends own one or the other and I proudly sport my Samsung Galaxy S4 everywhere I go. Nokia has done a spectacular job capitalizing on this rivalry to get themselves into the mix with their Lumia 1020 commercials. And, unfortunately 2) The Moto X just isn’t the top tier phone like these other major brands possess. I mean, for real, stand the Moto X next to a Samsung S4 (Since I’m kinda a Samsung guy), and in processing power, screen size/resolution, and battery capacity to name a few features, Moto X is deficient. Perhaps it might have been a wise marketing move to label the Moto X as a “entry level” phone as to avoid direct comparisons with the leading smart phone models. I know that’s what I was expecting from Google when they first announced Moto X, so I guess the let down began for me even before the phone began existing. And finally 3) the customization Moto X ads capitalized on most is, in my opinion, quite trivial. Changing the color of the case? Isn’t that what phone protection cases are for? What I think is hilarious is that even Apple for some reason also thought this color case thing was a good idea with their iPhone 5c. Perhaps I’ll write my own blog about how much of a joke the 5c is, but concerning the Moto X, it was an admirable attempt to do something different that was appropriate for the brand, but if that’s where customization ends of the phone ends, its just not enough of a unique selling proposition I think.

    Google has to follow Moto X up with something really impressive to rival Samsung, Apple, HTC and Nokia. Now that Microsoft owns the phone division of Nokia, I’m sure they’re going to push hard and produce really great products to take market share from the Big 3, which will for sure make the market much more difficult for Google to penetrate. Although, Apple and its lack of innovation is really hurting the reputation Jobs spent his whole term as CEO building. If all Apple has in the future is more iPhone 5c ideas, they’re really going to lose their fan base, and I personally wouldn’t mind being alive to see that. Moto X I would say is a good phone for people finally switching to the world of smart phones. But I’m waiting on whats next for Motorola handsets. What flagship handset device will Google finally hang its hat on? Because if it’s the Moto X, then really, all Google fans should be disappointed.

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