Motorola is now under Lenovo control, and that should have been a good thing in a price-sensitive market like India.
Instead, ever since Lenovo has taken active control of the US company, the US brand seems to be convulsing to shake-off its low- and mid-range customers in India — exactly the type who built the Moto brand in the last two years.
And the launch of the Moto G Turbo gives further proof that the company is slowly, but surely moving out of its ‘value for money’ image.
Take the Moto G3, which was launched at Rs 11,999 back in July. That was also the time when Lenovo had launched the excellent K3 Note at just Rs 9,999.
While the K3 Note, which was cheaper by Rs 2,000 compared to the G3, offered a full-HD display and 2 GB of RAM, Moto G3 was stuck with a 720p display, 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM. (A 2 GB variant was priced Rs 12,999.)
Of course, Moto fans protested against comparing the model with the K3 Note. They said Moto, as a brand, cannot be compared to Lenovo. While Moto offered premium handsets, Lenovo was all about keeping costs down.
And that impression has been strengthened with today’s launch of the Turbo version of the July model. The only difference between the Moto G3 16 GB version and the Turbo version is in the processor.
While the July model came with a Snapdragon 410 chipset with four Cortex A53 (low power) cores, the new one comes with eight such cores.
Other than that, everything else is the same.
The SD 615 is a decent chipset, but certainly not the most powerful out there, and despite its waterproofing, it is very difficult to find a reason to buy the Moto G Turbo at such a high price.
For example, the Gionee Elife S7 — which comes with a similar octa-core cortex A53 chipset, a full-HD AMOLED display, an 8 MP front camera (vs 5 MP on the Turbo), DTS sound and a battery that is about 15% bigger, is priced at just Rs 14,360 on Paytm.
In fact, Lenovo itself is going to launch the A7010 (also known as Vibe X3 Lite) — with stylish new looks, dual front speakers, a full-HD display and so on — this month for an expected price of around Rs 10,000-11,000.
The only explanation for the pricing of the Moto G Turbo can be that Moto wants to move out of the ‘value for money’ image that it has cultivated in its first two years after re-entering India.
And it is starting with the low- and mid-range market.
In the high-end and upper-mid-range market, Motorola continues to be a value-for-money brand. For example, its Moto X Play, priced just Rs 3,500 more than the Turbo, is definitely in the VFM category, and offers a full-HD display, a battery than is 50% bigger, a bigger display and a far superior rear camera (21 MP vs 13 MP). Like the Turbo, the X Play is also water and dust resistant.
The Moto X Style, priced Rs 29,999, is also one of the most affordable Quad-HD phones in India.
This would indicate that the US brand is purposefully ceding the sub-Rs 15,000 mass market to its parent brand Lenovo, and is positioning itself as a ‘premium brand.’
The problem is that Motorola’s brand is built around premise of delivering an excellent phone at an affordable price. The ‘affordable price’ part is as key to its brand as the excellent phone part.
The Moto E, which offered an excellent Android experience at a (then) unbelievable price of just Rs 6,999, is as much a part of Motorola’s image as the Moto X, which offered value at the top end of the spectrum.
What also remains to be seen is whether the company will transition its upper-end products such as the X series also into ‘premium’ offerings and away from value for money. That, however, seems less likely given that not many are likely to shell out Rs 25,000 or more for a phone with the Lenovo brand on it.