Motorola’s Moto X Smartphone aimed right at the core of Apple
New phones typically come with a bit of fanfare. Usually the focus in on new features, size, specifications…all the usual stuff. But Motorola’s upcoming Moto X has already raised eyebrows without any news about specs.
The Android smartphone market is a very crowded and busy place. There are so many choices between manufacturers, features, and operating system version that it’s a bit overwhelming. If the Android market seems a bit like the cereal aisle at MegaMart, Apple’s iPhone is more like shopping for a Ferrari: “Would you like it in red or red? No you can’t have a radio.” So to get attention requires something a bit different. Enter the Motorola Moto X.
The news this time is all about design. The design of the Moto X will be significant for two big reasons. First, it will be assembled entirely in the US. Motorola’s holding page for the project declares, “By the end of the summer we expect there to be more than 2000 new employees in Ft. Worth, TX working to make all of this possible.” Why is this significant? First of all this is aimed squarely at Apple, who has been under a great deal of scrutiny regarding the conditions under which its Chinese assemblers work. Motorola (and Google, as it owns the company) are hoping to capture the hearts of socially conscious users who care not only about their devices but about how they are made and who makes them. So this is a phone for your Tom’s shoes wearing hipster on their way back from Whole Foods.
The second piece about design is also significant in that Motorola is announcing that this will be a phone that users can design themselves. What this actually means is left to the imagination for now, but suffice it to say that users will probably be able to choose their own colors, probably from a stock palate. However if this is all that you can do I’d have to say that I’d be disappointed. I’m hoping that this phone will also be aimed at “makers“, those folks who hack and modify their stuff to make it just the way they want. It’s the modern equivalent of hot rodding, if that helps. I could see Motorola allowing not only colors to choose from, but also allowing users to upload images to use as backplates, allowing multiple textures and finishes, and possibly even features. Motorola could also release the specs to the phone to users who could then use a 3d printer to create stuff to modify the device to their own liking, maybe even adding features Motorola never considered.
Apple has long been known for and associated with design. Its products are paradigms of design in action. However it has also been associated with strict control, as in taking control away from the user in favor of an Apple-created design experience. By focusing on the where (US vs China) and who (Apple vs you) aspects of design, it will be interesting to see where the Moto X goes.