By Stephen Schenck | November 21, 2013 10:50 AM
It’s been just over a week since Motorola debuted the Moto G, and the oh-so affordable Android continues to occupy my thoughts. After all, anyone can deliver a very high-end smartphone, simply choosing the most expensive components and throwing them all together; instead, Motorola managed with the Moto G to create a smartphone that’s not only one of the best values I’ve ever seen, but doesn’t make unpalatable compromises in order to keep costs down.
And that’s absolutely fantastic news for Motorola, for Google, and for Android’s chances for mid-range domination. In fact, if Motorola gets distribution right, and the Moto G is available in markets all around the world at a price that works out to the equivalent of about $200, the company has a very good shot at besting much of its competition.
At least, that’s assuming that the Moto G remains the only game in town with this killer value/performance balancing act. Nokia’s been doing some fantastic stuff with affordable Lumias, but for as much growth as Windows Phone has seen, I still don’t feel that it’s at a place yet where it can compete with iOS and Android on even ground. And then there’s this recent idea that LG might be taking a bit of a hiatus from smartphones for a while; will Motorola start snatching up market share, relatively unopposed?
The problem isn’t that HTC hasn’t been making mid-range devices; this year saw the arrival of plenty of Desire models alongside the flagship One devices, but they’re just not very competitive models when put up against the Moto G.
Look at the Desire 601: it’s got a dual-core Snapdragon 400, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 4.5-inch qHD display. The Moto G offers a higher-end quad-core 400 and a higher-res screen, but the 601 has LTE support where the Moto G doesn’t; trade-offs here and there, but same ballpark.
Except the 8GB Moto G sells for about $180, while an off-contract Desire 601 (like the one that just landed at Virgin Mobile) will set you back more like $280. That’s not a small difference, either – HTC expects shoppers to pay a 56% premium over the Moto G, without offering them much in return.
All the phones in HTC’s Desire lineup share a similar problem: they’re very much old-school mid-rangers, with prices that certainly fall below those of flagships, but still aren’t anywhere low enough to compete against a Moto G or Lumia 520, and with specs that have been dialed way too far down for what you receive. Don’t get me wrong; the Moto G isn’t going to be besting a heavyweight like the Note 3 with its performance, but little things like the quad-core SoC and the 720p display give it a substantial leg up over its peers.
This industry is rife with claims of companies copying each other, ripping off designs, and stealing ideas. HTC, it’s time to swallow your pride; if you want to stay competitive, you need to copy the Moto G.
Not the look, nor necessarily the hardware; HTC, you need to copy Motorola’s approach to making the Moto G the smartphone value to beat. You’ve already shown us that you can make very attractive mid-range hardware like the HTC One Mini – now you just need to show us that you can do it while delivering a phone that costs $200 less.
Because really, you sort of have to. The only way it’s going to stay effective to keep selling mid-rangers in the price bracket you have been thus far is if you play carriers to your advantage, making overpriced Desire models available while keeping the Moto G out of stores. That’s a pretty lousy way to make a buck, though, and it’s not a particularly sound long term solution, either. The era of the really cheap, quality built mid-ranger is upon us, and it’s not simply going to go away by ignoring it. You can evolve, and even try to get ahead of this thing, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by ignoring it, or thinking your phones are somehow above all this: they’re not, and HTC can’t afford to become like BlackBerry and let the rest of the industry zoom past it.
So, if you’re at all serious at remaining in the smartphone game, HTC, you sit down and find a way to do for yourself what Motorola did with the Moto G.