Today's a big day for Google and its smartphone subsidiary Motorola.
They finally took the wraps off the Moto X, a new smartphone that the tech press has been losing its lunch over all summer.
All the hype wasn't entirely unjustified. I've been using the Moto X for a few hours now, and it seems like a pretty good phone. Instead of throwing in as many extra software add-ons as possible (ahem, Samsung), Motorola kept things simple by using a nearly clean version of Android devoid of any gimmicky features.
And the few features it did add are actually pretty useful. You can launch the camera app by twisting the device, making it easy to quickly grab a shot before you miss any action. You can perform Siri-like voice commands without even touching the phone. It knows when you take it out of your pocket and displays a quick "peek" at your incoming notifications and messages.
Unfortunately, no one will buy it.
Well, we've been through this before. Here's a quick history lesson for you:
In January, BlackBerry released a new top-tier phone called the BlackBerry Z10. That phone had a lot of hype and a lot of good reviews. Sales were pretty bad.
In March, HTC released a top-tier phone called the HTC One. That phone had a lot of hype and a lot of good reviews. HTC reportedly sold a few million worldwide, but the company is still in big trouble.
Nokia has sold millions of its Lumia-branded Windows Phones phones, mostly by attacking the low-end of the smartphone market. It sold 7 million and change last quarter, but the company is still scrambling for a hit.
Meanwhile, the high-end of the smartphone market appears to be completely saturated with iPhones and Samsung's Galaxy phones, which makes it nearly impossible for a $200 device like the Moto X to stand out in that category, even if it is a really good phone. Don't forget, Samsung and Apple are the only two companies making any real profit in mobile.
Following my briefings with Motorola execs and my time with the device today, I see nothing here that will cause people to make the switch. That doesn't make the Moto X a bad device. It's not. But it does make it the latest example of a saturated smartphone market where too many voices are trying to shout above the noise of Samsung and Apple.
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