Motorola made some waves the other day when it announced its Moto E smartphone. This phone started at a low price of just $129 and was targeted at a global market out shopping for a durable phone. A phone that doesn’t necessarily have to be powerful. A phone that does the basics very well. In other words, a phone that’s cheap and low-end.
Well the intersection of Cheap Street and Low-End Lane has had an occupant for some time now. The Lumia 520 is the very definition of cheap and low-end. There are some similar specifications here, but the main difference is Windows Phone versus Android. Well OK, there is one other difference that we’ll talk about in just a bit.
Android KitKat was supposed to be developed with this very concept in mind. One of the main selling points in KitKat was its ability to run on low-end hardware. The Moto E countered with a Snapdragon 200 dual core 1.2 Ghz processor, which really puts KitKat’s capabilities to the test.
Windows Phone in the meantime attacks the low-end phone space with the Lumia 520, which is running Windows Phone 8 (8.1 with the developer preview). Windows Phone has long had a reputation for running perfectly smoothly on low-end hardware. Editorials have been written about this very concept. Windows Phone’s reputation for performing admirably in this regard is well earned and the Lumia 520 backs that up.
So, now we have two smartphones that are poised to face off with each other in emerging and other not-so-emerging markets. Besides choice of operating systems, there is another thing that sets these two phones apart – price. In the US (your mileage may vary) the Lumia 520 comes in at about 3/8 of the price of the Moto E – ~$50 versus ~$130. This is not an insignificant amount of money, unlike my editorial from yesterday. A full $80 separates these two phones from each other. Once again, I’m talking about in the US.
Results may vary
If you happen to be living in an area where this is not the case, then this section of the editorial will not apply to you. Carriers and OEMs and countries all over the world follow inconsistent pricing patterns, so I really can’t account for every area. Sorry about that. But in areas where income is lower, if the price of the Moto E is attractive, the price of the Lumia 520 has to reach Moulin Rouge, Nicole Kidman levels. To those of you not familiar with the movie, look to the left. You’re welcome.
Of course all this is not to say that the Moto E is going to be toothless in this catfight. Far from it. The Moto E brings one very powerful thing to the table – Android itself. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Android is or is not fundamentally better than Windows Phone. That’s another editorial, or twelve. But I am saying that Android is far and away a more popular and more recognized operating system today. That may change in the coming years, but for now it is what it is.
Perception is reality
Android also brings with it the perception of a more robust app selection. People that have to pony up money for a smartphone are going to want it to do what they want it to do. Is the “app gap” closing (or even closed)? Arguably. But try convincing the world of that. That is Microsoft’s job at the moment. For now, the perception remains that Windows Phone is not up to speed in this category. It may be a false perception, but again, it is what it is.
Not everything in life is about the money. But a lot in life is. $50 is a very compelling reason to try out a smartphone in an area where dollars and cents are not as abundant. But at the same time brand recognition is a huge motivator in purchasing decisions. So the Moto E can’t be written off just because of a higher price tag. I think the Moto E has a shot, even if it is not a well-deserved shot, at threatening the Lumia 520’s gains into the low-end market. All Microsoft can do is keep lifting the platform up and making it more attractive, which it has been doing lately and doing well.
Leader image source: Ars Technica