At an event earlier today Motorola, a Google company unveiled its latest ‘budget’ smartphone called “Moto G”. The theme of the entire event and the ideology behind the product was to make premium features available at a non-premium price.
While announcing the new Moto G product Motorola executives mentioned Apple’s iPhone 5s, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and HTC a few times. Moto G features 4.5 inch high resolution screen with 329 ppi and 720p. The executives were quick to point out that the screen has better quality than Apple’s flagship iPhone 5s. Moto G runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 clocked at 1.2 GHz, 1GB RAM, and offers “all-day” battery life with around 14 hours of talk time on 3G networks. In comparison, iPhone 5s according to Apple offers 10 hours of battery life on 3G.
After unveiling the hardware features and sharing the idea behind creating a budget phone Punit Soni who is responsible for software product management for Moto G took the stage to talk about software. Soni mentioned the three main tenets of their software strategy for Moto G. The first being build on pure foundation of Android, second build experiences that compliment Google services and not compete with them and lastly ensure that the software can give value back to the users.
If you’ve ever seen any Android device in the market manufactured by Samsung, HTC or Sony among many others you will immediately realise that all these companies have two things in common. They add a layer of their own software to the stock OS and bundle services that compete with Google’s software services.
Soni began to elaborate on the three main tenets by saying:
In today’s ecosystem mobile manufactures have a very confused relationship with Android they build on top of it but then they add all of these custom skins which detract from the user experience and hogs resources then they go ahead and put duplicative software on top of it which basically compete with Google services.
He goes on to mention that devices bundled with multiple mail apps, app stores, video players and music players results in “non-intuitive” and “cluttered” user interface.
At the time of purchase of Motorola by Google for a record $12.5 billion the search giant claimed that they bought the company to secure Android’s position in future by acquiring key patents. Even though Google claims to treat all Android partners equally, at today’s event Soni was sending an indirect yet strong message to ‘other’ Android device manufacturers.
While referencing to the custom skins the slide Soni used had TouchWiz, Sense UI and Xperia UI. Clearly, targeting the top three Android manufacturers to convey that Moto G’s software strategy is superior to other Android partners. So, in essence Motorola a company owned by Google called Samsung, Sony and HTC “confused”.
Soni then goes on to advocate the use of “pure Android” in mobile devices and says:
A device that’s built on pure Android with minor optimisations is gonna have an incredible high performance
Here again Soni is sending out a clear message that any device with custom UI layers may be missing out on high performance as other non-stock apps and skins may hog more resources than required.
This could have a long term effect on customer mindset when they buy Android devices. Users could soon start associating “real” Android experience with Motorola (since Google owns Motorola) and “spinoff” experience with other smartphone manufacturers.
When it comes to smartphones most devices are beginning to look quite similar in terms of hardware so ultimately manufacturers try to differentiate their products with custom skins and other software services. However, at today’s event it appears that Google might have used the announcement of Moto G as an opportunity to convey Google’s stand on device manufacturers trying to add custom layers.
If this wasn’t enough, Motorola went on to compare performance of Moto G in terms of answering calls, making calls, launching browser, returning home and booting to Samsung Galaxy S4 to show how stock Android OS was clearly the winner.
This is the best validation of a strategy which involves disciplined software which focuses on optimisation that creates value for the user
In his attempt to bring attention to stock Android experience Soni suggests that software strategy being followed by other Android device manufacturers is rather indisciplined.
So, in conclusion on one hand Google’s Motorola tried to highlight the features of its new low-priced smartphone but on the other it clearly didn’t fall short of ridiculing Google’s Android partners.
It will be interesting to see how Samsung, HTC and Sony respond to Motorola claiming that their devices are non-intuitive, have cluttered interface and custom skins that hog resources.