Time up Motorola. This was on the cards for sometime and it has happened. Lenovo has announced that it will continue to play the two-brand smartphone strategy, albeit under one house. Motorola will now be just “Moto by Lenovo”. To be fair, the transition started way back in Jan 2014 when Lenovo acquired Motorola from Google. Moto X (2013) was the last phone to carry the Motorola branding. Since then it has primarily been Moto, with a small mention of Motorola on the back and other insignificant places. And soon, that will be phased out too.
Rick Osterloh, Motorola’s chief operating officer told CNET at CES 2016 that Motorola will be replaced with “Moto by Lenovo” with the iconic bat-winged “M” logo staying intact. Lenovo is expected to continue using the Motorola name in organizational settings. So there will be two primary smartphone brands – Moto and Vibe, much like how it has been in the recent past, albeit with a more prominent Lenovo branding.
It was no secret that Lenovo bought Motorola Mobility primarily from the branding perspective and break into new markets, as Google retained most of the patents. So retaining the “Moto” brand is no brainer. Still, this is an important development because Motorola once represented the pinnacle of wireless technology, being the inventor of cell phones. Sadly, many consider Motorola to be a ‘tired’ brand trying to resurrect itself, something like what Nokia was in 2013 and Blackberry is right now.
Although, for many, Moto stands for Motorola, but it’s still painful to see the brand being retired. From Lenovo’s perspective, it’s wise to use the popular Moto brand to get more and more people get acquainted with Lenovo. It’s not like Lenovo is not well known. The Chinese company did amazingly well by projecting itself as a global company when it acquired IBM’s Thinkpad division and slowly associating Thinkpad branding with Lenovo itself. But that was with the previous generation who grew up with PCs. Now with Moto, it aims to capture the younger crowd who are growing up with smartphones and highly regard the Moto brand.
Till now, Lenovo was content to play the dual-brand smartphone game in specific markets that each is already strong in. Apparently, that will change. Osterloh says that his Moto business group will soon take over all mobile operations at Lenovo. And this means bringing Vibe phones into markets where Moto exists, and vice versa. Moto will continue to be the “up scale” brand in all markets, while Lenovo’s own “Vibe” will play the affordable/budget game.