Sunday, 13 September 2009

Motorola, Handsets and Branding: A Cliq and a Coda

Almost by telepathy, just about the very moment on Friday that I was publishing my post--"Can Branding Save Motorola's Handset Business"--, CNET News was publishing an article written by Tom Krazit, also dated 11 September, on the same subject. Entitled "Motorola's Comeback Attempt Rests on Software", the article describes the launch of a new smartphone, called the Cliq.

What is special about the Cliq is Motoblur, "a layer of software that sits above the Android operating system and will coordinate incoming messages and news feeds on future Motorola handsets." The article goes on to say that Motoblur is "actually more than just software --Motorola is also essentially hosting an online service that will deliver Facebook updates and RSS feeds to individual phones--but it's emblematic of the shift towards software and the Internet as the main features in a mobile phone."

Motorola's choice of the Android (and Google), which was not explained in the Business Week article, is explained in the CNET report. Paraphrasing the CEO of Motorola, the company "struck up a partnership with Google and Android because it realized that Google could do a much better job of coordinating third-party software develops and application sales than Motorola could do on its own."

As stated further in the report, at the end of the day, Motorblur is the means for "Motorola's social-network marketing strategy with the Cliq." If so, the key to Motorola's plans for the Cliq is to provide a superior user experience that will tie a new generation of users to the Motorola brand and mark. Motorola's competitors will almost certainly be able to develop software that will ultimately attain similar functionality. If so, Motorola's ultimate advantage will be in the value of its brand, as embodied in the Cliq user experience, and Motorola's ability to continue to tweak that experience and thereby support the brand. That is more or less what I was trying to suggest.

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