7 reasons why the Motorola Dext will save the brand
18th Sep 2009 | 11:54
And 3 reasons why it won't
Why the Dext can save Motorola
After what seems like aeons in the wilderness, Motorola is back with a new phone, the Dext. It's the brand's first effort at a phone on the Android platform, and it has high hopes that this will be the one to bring it back into the light.
We take a look at the new Dext and give you all the reasons why Moto should be feeling positive - and a few why it should feel a little ashamed.
1. Motorola has actually released a phone
Yes, it's a little bit obvious, but hands up anyone that can point to the last big phone Motorola had (and the Razr doesn't count). The company has been practically in hibernation for over a year, shedding staff in the process, and things looked pretty bleak.
But now there's a shiny new toy for everyone to see and play with, and the stocks have responded in kind, shooting up over 20 per cent since strong rumours of the launch were leaked.
2. It's based on social networking
As Motorola is by no means the first to market with Android, it had to do something different, and that's been achieved by 'Happenings' on the MotoBlur platform. These are essentially embedded widgets which link to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and provide real-time updates to the services.
So if your mate changes his status on Facebook, it will pop up on the home screen instantly.
But it goes further than that, by integrating your mates' social networking personas into your contact book as well, in a much deeper way than that seen by Palm, INQ or HTC. It means you can choose which way to reply to someone as a drop-down menu, or post a status update of your own to one or multiple accounts at once.
Social networking on a phone isn't a new idea, but Moto has taken it and rammed it so far into the Dext that you feel like you'd see a Facebook message if you took the battery cover off.
3. The Dext embraces open source through Android
Motorola looks to have backed a winner in the Android platform, as it's not only wide open to the development community (meaning better and faster upgrades and tricks) but it comes with all the goodies Android Market application portal has to offer.
While the iPhone clearly has the best App Store, it's limited to a handful of Apple handsets. Google's Android Market may only have a small portion of the applications Apple has, but that number is growing quickly, and more importantly, it's open to other brands.
This means that not only has Motorola picked a platform that it can tinker with (meaning it can create MotoBlur) but it means it automatically comes with applications like Spotify and Doom for free, making it a better proposition.
Big in the US
4. It has a popular form factor... at least in the US
The US just loves a QWERTY keyboard on their mobile, as shown by the success of the Sidekick in that region. The Motorola Dext comes with just that (although it's called the Cliq over there) and although it's a little cramped vertically, it's still a decent enough set of keys.
Don't forget, the Razr was still the top selling mobile phone over in the US until last year, and while Motorola hasn't had the same level of success in the UK, the form factor will still be accepted thanks to consumers getting used to it through BlackBerrys and the T-Mobile G1.
5. Motorola's jumped into bed with Google
Motorola is not just using Android for the OS, so releasing the Dext on this platform means the phone also gets all the latest and most up to date Google goodies.
This means the best Google Maps, Talk, Mail, Voice Search, integrated GPS for turn-by-turn directions and a pretty decent HMTL browser to boot - which isn't a bad haul, especially when Moto doesn't have to develop these tools itself.
6. It's being launched at the same time worldwide
All too often phone companies will stagger the launches of their mobile worldwide, meaning we end up with a phone being launched again, and again, and again. And again (we're looking at you Palm, and the UK still hasn't got the Pre).
But although we don't have an exact release date for the Dext, it's very likely each territory will get the phone within weeks of each other.
This is important as it builds up the importance of the handset, and creates a groundswell of excitement (if it gets good early reviews, that is), which in turn boosts share price.
And given Motorola needs all the confidence it can get through this renaissance that can only be a good thing.
7. Motorola will release more models before 2009 is out
A little birdie has mentioned to us that it might not be too long before we see more MotoBlur handsets, meaning by 2010 Motorola could go from having very little presence in the market to having three top drawer phones.
In anyone's book that's a decent effort, and if the company manages to bring out the Sholes or the Calgary it will at least show there's life in the brand yet.
The Dext is crucial to these plans though, as any issues that arise from its launch can quickly be rectified in the other form factors on the OS side, and therefore each subsequent release can be seen as an improvement, helping Moto look like it's got its finger on the pulse of what the consumer needs.
And three reasons why it can't save the brand...
Of course, it's not all sweetness and light for a company that's been mired in rumours of extinction for so long. One phone launch will struggle to make everything hunky-dory, and there are a few reasons why Motorola should worry about the forthcoming Dext launch:
1. It's too expensive for a phone that appeals to teenagers as well as adults
Social networking might be getting 'cooler' for the older generations to partake in, but MySpace and Facebook is pretty much populated by the younger generations.
So for the Dext to cost £35 per month on a two-year contract is a bit crazy, as it alienates a huge percentage of the market. We're not talking about the 20-30 year olds who have that kind of disposable income - we mean the teenagers who would go gaga for such converged networking.
But unless you can convince your Ma and Pa that this is phone will help you do your homework better or make you less prone to mood swings, you're unlikely to get them to pay that much per month for you. There's a reason the iPhone isn't used by many teens, and it appears Motorola has followed it down that expensive path.
2. It's not aesthetically pleasing
Yes, it's got a QWERTY keyboard and a pretty responsive touchscreen, but it is a touch on the bulky side at 15.6mm thick.
It also has leanings towards HTC's business in the chassis, which is very much more about function than style for the most part.
The reason items like the iPhone and the Palm Pre are such big hitters isn't just what they offer the user in tech terms, but also because they are not something people are afraid to pull out their pocket at parties.
Aesthetics are far from the be all and end all in a mobile phone, but if you want to extend the appeal of a device beyond the tech enthusiast, it has to be handbag friendly as well.
3. Motorola has sunk too far to play in the smartphone game
And of course, there's the case that it could be too late for Motorola. While the US might still be more interested in feature phones than smartphones, the UK and Western Europe (not to mention Asia) is very much behind the new wave of the 'do-all' handset.
Motorola has been a notable absence in the smartphone arena for some time, and while it might find it easier to rise back to the surface in the US as a top name, in order to achieve true success it needs to be competing at the sharp end of all the major markets.