Motorola’s Moto G Does Well in Q1 2014

During Google’s Q1 2014 webcast, Patrick Pichette, CFO cited strong emerging market sales for Motorola’s Moto G smart phone: “And before I close, I want to give a brief update on Motorola. Motorola had a great quarter in Q1, with the Moto G showing strong sales momentum, especially in emerging markets.” (quoted from the webcast).

While I could find no specific detail to substantiate this claim, neither in the handouts accompanying the webcast, nor in the 8K filed with the SEC, I did find even stronger claims made on March 31, 2014 by Kantar WorldPanel Comtech: “Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, comments: ‘Motorola was nowhere in Europe before the Moto G launched in November last year, but the new model has since boosted the manufacturer to 6% of British sales. It highlights the speed at which a quality budget phone can disrupt a market.'” (quoted from Kantar WorldPanel’s web site).

In a November 20, 2013 post to this blog titled Channel Conflicts — Android Style: Why is the Moto G Hitting the Market, but not the Chinese Market? I noted the Moto G ” . . . sports a high resolution screen and “the latest Android” O/S, [and] is available at a very low retail price of $179.00.” But I read these strong specifications to signal Google had crossed the line, by coming to the consumer market with its own smart phone powered by Android O/S (which it “owns”, if such a term can be applied to whomever manages this type of Open Source O/S).

Comparisons with Samsung’s Galaxy 4, arguably one of the better selling smart phones offered by the largest Android OEM, were, perhaps inevitable, but who would make them, and why?

Back on November 21, 2013, Vlad Andrici published this in an article titled The Motorola Moto G: An Impressive Addition: “Motorola has compared the Moto G’s performance with the Samsung Galaxy S4, when performing minor tasks. Despite Moto G’s mid-range SoC, lower amount of RAM and less powerful graphics chip, the handset apparently manages to make a call 1.1 seconds faster than the Galaxy S4, it answers a call 1.2 seconds faster, returns home 0.5 seconds faster and boots up 5.3s quicker too.”

If Andrici’s claim is true, then this direct comparative claim of superiority over Samsung’s Galaxy S4, coming from non other than Motorola Mobility, an Android O/S handset OEM wholly owned, at the time, by Google, itself, likely made a lot of waves for the Android handset OEM channel.

Does Pichette’s remark lend credence to the notion I expressed last November? Did this handset shift the balance of the handset OEM market too much in Google’s favor? I have no information to indicate this is the case, beyond pointing to the comparatively strong performance for the handset in, at least, the UK market.

Also, the Moto G appears to be winning over precisely the right kind of customers, to ensure lots of sales volume: Kantar WorldPanel Comtech notes “The Moto G in Great Britain has attracted a very specific consumer profile. Almost half of owners are aged between 16 and 24, 83% are male and generally they come from lower income groups with 40% earning under £20,000.” (quoted from the Kantar WorldPanel Comtech article on Motorola’s Moto G. I’ve provided a link to the entire article, above).

The Moto G’s success signals likely good news for Motorola Mobility’s new parent: Lenovo. When and if someone starts selling the phone to the Chinese market, sales may really take off. Too bad Google appears to have had feet on either side of a potentially dangerous Rubicon.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

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