Does the Motorola Motus show Moto returning to their “Razr Rut”? 2-4 years of Cliq/Droid/Motus-like copies ahead?

by Mike
Posted November 20th, 2009 at 8:18 am


It’s been two weeks now since the Droid was released. A week ago I gave my impressions after several days with the device. While the Droid had a form factor similar to the Cliq — a more teenage/younger generation target audience — the overall improvements in internals and external hardware as well as more advanced software pegged the Droid higher up on the food chain. So two big phones for Motorola after years of epic failure after epic failure. And now, a third device from Motorola has been caught on camera, the Motorola Motus (shown above). Can you recognize anything? Three big devices featuring the same basic design. Can anyone say Razr Rut II? With that said, is Motorola setting themselves up for another 2-4 year failure?

I really used to love Motorola. Hell, I’ll even admit that back in the glory days of the Razr I was into it. But after a while, Moto beat that design horse long past it’ death to the point that even now, any phone resembling a Razr makes me want to puke. Even the the Droid is completely different from the Razr, both in hardware and software, the fact that we are already seeing the same design from them starting to get copied onto each new device is scary and unfortunate. The leaked shot above depicting what is claimed to be the next Moto device, the Moto Motus, I’m already starting to get tired of the sliding side qwerty design. I mean, how many can you really do before it gets old?

Now I realize that HTC has the same basic design across many phones spanning Windows Mobile and Android. Why have they gotten away with it so far without much gripe from end users of tired design? You’re guess is as good as mine really. But HTC isn’t the only culprit. RIM also has the same basic design from design cycle to cycle. But the thing that seems to separate everyone else from Motorola’s repeats is that everyone else seems to either build better hardware and/or software, or they simply change the design enough to keep people coming back. At least every puts out the illusion that they change. On the other hand, Motorola has proven that they have an extremely difficult time moving on and innovating.


Another thing that sticks out in my as to why Motorola has so much trouble in general is that of the whole Razr Rut. Because of that, a stigma has been attached to Motorola because of their past issues with abandoning the Razr design elements and not being able to fully move, leaving many looking at Moto with the idea that the first and/or second device is great. But after those first one or two knockouts, we’ll have to wait 2-4 years through constant repeats to finally get a decent revolutionary device again. They managed to survive that path once, but I doubt they could again.

Such a revelation is again sad and frustrating as it illustrates that we could be seeing the last of Motorola in the next year or two. The Droid is a big money maker for them currently. But that money will only carry them so far. Getting stuck in a Razr Rut for a second time will drain cash reserves and completely obliterate any hope and optimism the company has so far reestablished.

Is it too early to call Moto done and out with only 3 devices into the Android fray even spotted? There’s a good chance they have several other designs and are doing a quarterly or yearly refresh cycle. Such a cycle is roughly what RIM follows. Though there’s is closer to 1.5 yrs. Still, the question remains, is Moto walking the final plank, once finding a good design unable to break free and try new things?

Update: With the Motorola specs now released, does this article still stand and retain any relevance? I ask because I make the argument that the Motorola sliding qwerty is quickly getting old. But according to the now known specs, it’s not a sliding qwerty but a “unique flipping qwerty”. Personally, it doesn’t matter. Whether it flips or slides it’s still essentially the same phone design. Is this flip open feature a fad, gimmick, or worthwhile enough to redefine Moto’s design?

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