By Adam Doud | August 15, 2013 7:00 AM
Much ballyhoo has been made about the Moto X’s customization. Still more comes with the always listening voice controls of the not-quite-Google offering. Unfortunately, Moto X challenges are many, and mostly self-inflicted. Ironically, many of the challenges the Moto X faces stem from the most touted feature of the Moto X – the customizations themselves.
So what will stop the Moto X from flying off the shelves? Let’s take a gander, shall we?.
Specs versus price
The specifications on this puppy ain’t all that great. The specifications feel like a half-hearted attempt at putting together a good-but-not-great phone that will rest on its customization and always listening laurels. But they’re setting the price at the same level as the Samsung GS4 and the HTC One, both superior phones in almost every way. If this is meant to be the phone for the everyone, or the layperson, then it needs to be priced at that appropriate level. Sure customization costs, but it can’t cost that much or guess what? People just won’t customize.
Carriers aren’t all on board this customization train either. Sure the Moto X is launching on all 5 major carriers in America, but only AT&T is offering the customizations that the Moto X is pushing. Other carriers will have black and white to start. Along with every other black and white phone they carry. So if you have visions of a phone with a white face, black back and red side trim, you better hope you monthly bill says AT&T on it. Otherwise you will be in a bit of a pickle. At least to start.
Sure, other carriers will bring the pretty, but AT&T has those exclusive – there’s that hated word again – rights to colors, and wood, and buttons, and sexy. Depending on whose rumors you believe, everyone else will have access to the rainbow phones, but not for several months. Look down Motorola. You see that hole in your foot? You put it there.
Are we there yet?
Another downside to these customizations is one simple thing – time. Motorola is planning on four days from ordering to delivery. This is a remarkably fast turnaround created by a factory in Texas and a “Mostly Made in America” sticker. But, it’s still four days. Wanna know how long four days is? Turn your phone off and put it in a drawer for four days. That’s a long four days. Sure if you’re upgrading, you can wait a few more days for your baby to arrive, but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to.
Your phone and no one else’s
Not to mention, the customizations are going to be permanent. You will not be able to switch out different options. How your phone ships is how it will be always. You can also go ahead and check your resale value at the door. Once you get your phone that speaks to you it probably won’t speak to anyone else. And by the way, remember those mall kiosks cases I mentioned before? Well if those are one-night stands, the Moto X is your spouse. Better hope you don’t find out about her crazy mother-in-law after the wedding vows.
Room for improvement
Overall, I’m excited to see the Moto X trying to sell the biggest differentiation of all – the customers themselves. At the same time, it seems that a little more market research could have gone a long way toward addressing some of the concerns above. Swappable cases and body styles for example might have been a good way to address all of them. I’m not sure how practical it would be – I’m not an engineer. But at the same time, I like the idea of walking into an AT&T store and picking out every aspect of how my phone looks. I’m just not so crazy about the four day wait until I get the darn thing.
Bottom line, the Moto X is its own worst enemy. It has a business plan that hasn’t been used much in the past because, well, it probably won’t work. The customizations are going to be permanent which means your phone won’t be anyone else’s phone, and that includes craigslist. The waiting period for your Moto X really is too long for the now, now, now smartphone industry. You could get a shotgun in most states faster than you can get a Moto X. And finally, it’s price, ho hum specs, and passable camera will all make potential consumers move on, redwood or no redwood.