Moto G is a game changer but likely to be a commercial failure in India

Last night Motorola took several pot shots at Samsung and Apple about how they are ignoring the mass market smartphone users by offering them obsolete tech when it came to the sub-$200 smartphone segment. It went on to claim how the Moto G would offer a similar experience as the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S at a third of the price. Motorola CEO, Dennis Woodside, even proclaimed how the Moto G has been made for the next half-a-billion smartphone users who cannot afford an expensive smartphone but want a premium smartphone experience. But can Motorola translate all of this into commercial success?

Don’t get me wrong. The Moto G sounds like a great product, at least on paper, for its price. There is no tier one OEM that offers all the features like a big HD display, a quad-core processor, water resistance and an almost pure Android experience in the sub-$200 segment, which accounts for 67 percent of the entire smartphone market in India. I had earlier pointed out how tier one brands are paying a lip service to this category, which has resulted in the rise of local players.

Another major point that Motorola is making here is it will provide Android updates. Currently the phone runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean but by the time it is launched in India, it will run on Android 4.4 KitKat. This is a big deal considering most phones in this price segment rarely get any software updates once it is launched.

Keeping the specs, the “claimed” build quality, software and most importantly the price in mind, the Moto G is certainly a game changer. But a great product has rarely guaranteed commercial success. And the odds of the Moto G being a commercial success seem bleak at the moment.

Motorola might be a “Google-owned” company but it is not Google. Across the world, barring the US and some Latin American countries, Motorola is a brand that has wound up its business and left. It does not have any market presence in most of the world. It is no longer a tier one OEM as far as the trade is concerned. What’s more, the launch of the Moto G does not mean it marks Motorola’s re-entry in the countries from where it left.

Apart from the US and Brazil where one will be able to buy the Moto G directly from Motorola, it will be sold through Motorola’s partners – carriers, retail chains and distributors – in the rest of the world. This brings the big question of who handles the after-sales service, which is a critical aspect for most emerging countries, including India. Who will set up the service centres across the country, if Motorola is not doing it on its own?

The next challenge for Motorola would be its distribution and sales strategy. For a product in this segment, it is imperative to be present in brick and mortar stores rather than having an online-only model. Retailers are not comfortable stocking a product of a company that does not have a physical presence in the country.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that Google is calling the shots with Motorola’s product portfolio to advance its Android agenda, rather than Motorola aspiring to become the great smartphone brand it once was.

  • Gaurav Narang

    I think they’re pushing it too far comparing their product to the top ones but on the other hand I also think this is a good smartphone, according to what they say, you can get a nice device for a really good price. I’d like to give it a try, I’m a tech enthusiast and I try out almost every new (interesting) gadget on the market and to keep up with everything I’m now using a new web app unioncy that allows me to collect all my docs (receipts, warranties…) online. It’s nice to go finally paperless.

  • ankgt

    As long as Motorola has a plan for after sales (which I think they still have to support some of the phones they have sold in stores) I believe the G will be a great success. It still has a good brand name and the phone looks great for the price point of usd 179. Shoppers in India are pretty smart and know a good deal when they see one. I just hope they keep the price low when it makes it way here.

  • Dushyant Shrikhande

    I think this is a good opportunity for google to surprise us all. This could very well be the reboot that motorola needs to get back into the Indian market. Pricing therefore, becomes even more important for Motorola. Consumers have a negative perception of Motorola after they pulled out of India, stopping services completely. So this can mark the beginning of a new phase for motorola in that respect.

  • ratul29

    I don’t agree. You cannot write off a device that hasn’t been launched yet. Yes, Motorola hasn’t tasted success in India, and that’s because of the Indian mentality who only run for Samsung devices which are no good. Motorola makes far more better phones from any others. A sub-$200 phone is probably the best way to re-enter a market, and win confidence of the market.

  • kunal

    lol this phone gonna sell on black as like canvas hd was sold…

    11000/- will be sold at arund 13000/- by the dealers.. wait and watch…

    motorola has tasted the success by selling L5-6 and razr..

    they know what indians want so wait and watch this phona gonna make dhoom 4

  • Sahil Chaturvedi

    Anyways, Google doesn’t even own Motorola devices anymore. Let’s see how Lenovo takes care of Moto.

  • Yogi Jbhj

    i have used Moto phones earlier.After sales service is pathetic.IDK if it is available now,i think, buying it W/o ASS wud be an idiotic decision ,how good the phone be.
    i agree the phone was ahead in terms of technology….but

  • Prince

    ha..ha..what you say now? still think moto g will not fair in India