This week got underway with the launch of two very different smartphones aimed at two ends of the price segment. On Monday, Sony launched its new flagship, the Xperia XZs, while a day later, Motorola brought forth the latest in its Moto G series, the G5. One device was super premium, priced at Rs 49,990, the other was very much targeted at the budget smartphone segment at Rs 11,999.
Of course, they were launched rather differently. Yes, they were both launched in hotels and featured senior executives from both companies (obviously), but there the similarities ended, although both companies went with formats that had been tried before.
Well begun, well ended, but in the middle? Well…
Sony, for their part, took the well-trodden path of placing an executive on the stage and doing a spec by spec analysis. To the company’s credit, the event did not get too delayed in spite of the fact that the flight of its MD, Kenichiro Hibi, got slightly late. Another plus for Sony was the fact that the seating arrangement was based on tables around which seats were placed, which allowed most media persons access to a table on which they could park their notebooks (a blessing for all those believe in writing reports and live tweeting – balancing laptops on your lap can be a pain, especially when your colleagues are walking past you all the time).
However, if Sony was to the point with its arrangements, the presentation of the product itself lapsed into a surprisingly routine and slightly dull affair. Some of the slides that were used seemed to be from another era and were laden with far too much text, some of which was laid out in a manner that made it difficult to read (yellow fonts on a white background are not super-readable). And as the Xperia XZs was very feature laden, the presentation itself tended to drag on a little – we did see a couple of yawns that were stuffed guilty by our colleagues, as the event crept past the hour mark. A bit of a pity really, because the product was multifaceted and packed with features. Oh for the charm of a Hugo Barra or even the all-out aggression of a Vineet Taneja!
The company, however, won back a lot of lost ground after the presentation was over when it actually handed media persons the device and also provided special zones in which its features could be tried out – there was a model airplane flying in one to let you try out the super slow motion feature, a bubble blowing machine and even one brave (and every drenched) executive who kept bursting water balloons to allow media persons to capture the moment of balloonary explosion in slow motion on the phone. Talk about starting and ending well, even while losing your grip in the middle.
Chatting up the Moto G5
Motorola (or Lenovo, what a line it is that separates the two) on the other hand decided to move away from its usual blend of executives presenting a product on stage. Yes, both Sudhin Mathur (Motorola Mobility India MD) and Anuj Sharma (Head of Product Marketing) were on stage, but this time, they ended up chatting about the product with a celebrity, Lopamudra Raut, she of Big Boss fame. The product was presented in the form of a discussion between the people on stage, and well, it sort of worked to an extent. The conversation at times did veer into the cringingly predictable (the young lady’s enthusiasm for the phone seemed a tad over the top and even made a few people wince, as did her declaration for doing everything from reading to shopping to social networking) but to their credit, Mathur and Sharma did try to keep adding statistics to the mix – pointing out that Moto G users tended to use social networks more frequently than the average user, for instance.
Motorola’s presentation team also seemed to have worked harder on the presentation slides, sticking to bright and colorful slides with easily readable text, although we found the fact that the “presenters” (or product chatters, in this case) ended up on one side of the stage and the massive screen showing the slides on the other a trifle odd – the whole stage seemed a bit too large. And yes, the seating was a little cramped for comfort to be honest (no tables here!). Yes, there was a demo zone here too, but one did not access to devices as easily as at the Sony event, although we think Motorola pulled a quick one with an arrangement of rather wittily titled “books” to highlight the phone’s Kindle/Amazon association (“Dial M for Moto”? Clever!).
All said and done, we would say that Motorola got its slides right but could have done a little more in terms of presentation – the whole chit-chat angle on stage can appear painfully contrived when it is amply clear that at least one of the parties is hell-bent on treating the product as the closest thing to Steve Jobs being reborn as Michael Jackson. Yes, Sony did handle its demo zones and seating better but then the company had invited fewer people and had a product that had was more “demonstrable” whereas Motorola was actually launching a slightly watered down variation of a product it had launched barely a few weeks ago (the Moto G5 Plus, remember?). That said, Motorola definitely seemed to have better presenters in terms of communications on stage (our advice? Lose the celeb, please!).
It was a tale of two rather different presentations. But then, they did feature two very different phones. On the balance, we think Motorola were closer to being on point with their presenters, but Sony scored on arrangements.