Motorola has lost the game in India but it’s still not too late for a comeback

demise of motorola

Comebacks aren’t easy. And when the market is already brimming with competition, successful comebacks are celebrated and much spoken about. Such was the case when Motorola bounced back in the Indian smartphone market some eight years ago with a roaring new champion that broke Flipkart’s website. The success of Moto G paved way for multiple popular successors down the line that the Indian population loved and picked up in heaps.

However, the thing about comebacks is that, while they aren’t easy to bring about in the first place, they are even harder to sustain. It requires careful monitoring of the external forces, as well as ensuring that your internal strategy doesn’t fall astray if you plan to keep that wheel of success running. You know, companies like Apple or Samsung are shining examples of such long-running successes.

But for a small company like Motorola, perhaps it was just too much to ask. Under its new Chinese masters, it has failed to keep the steam billowing. Perhaps, it was until the Moto G5, the fifth in the line of succession that Motorola enjoyed a commanding position in the Indian smartphone market. The brand was looked upon in respect and the phones were viewed in the same league as Samsung. But then, Motorola changed for the worse and decided it wanted to play too aggressive.

At the same time, the trio of Chinese competitors (Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo) resolved that they weren’t going to sit idle and watch others take a pie out of the fastest growing major smartphone market globally. The aggressive pricing, heavy marketing spend, and improving quality of products was changing the average Indian’s perception about these companies. Why bother with a premium brand that commands a premium price when, at the end of the day, it is manufactured in China and doesn’t really offer anything substantial over the Asian brands?

Perhaps the Moto managers didn’t consider this threat too seriously or they thought highly of the Moto brand. Motorola continued churning out phones that, while good, were below what the competition was offering and this wasn’t well received by the public. The demise really started with the Moto G6 series which was not only overpriced, but also no match for the Redmi Note series from Xiaomi. Consumers had already started flocking to these brands when Oppo and Vivo with their beautiful designs captured the imagination of the general public. Motorola wasn’t even bothered with the frenzy around notches until it was too late.

From left: Redmi Note 7 Pro. Mi A2, Zenfone Max Pro M2, and Realme Pro 2; all better phones spec-wise compared to the Moto G7
From left: Redmi Note 7 Pro. Mi A2, Zenfone Max Pro M2, and Realme Pro 2; all better phones spec-wise compared to the Moto G7

Today, Motorola sells a fraction of what it did a few years back in India. The new Moto G7 series is here but the public hasn’t even bothered checking them out. And why would they, if not the Note 7, there are plenty other options from Asus, Vivo, Samsung, and Oppo that are better.

Comebacks while not easy to sustain can be made over several times. Asus is a shining example that comes to mind. The Zenfone series has seen its popularity rise and plummet and rise back as Asus adjusted its business strategy with the market realities. Lenovo needs to wake up too it wants to salvage the three odd billion dollars it pumped into the brand when it took over the reins from Google. Yes, it might have to give up a bit on the margins. Perhaps, even invest more aggressively, but the brand is still not forgotten in memory and has a good recall. Time is sure running out for Motorola before it is left to be a niche player, but all it takes is one good product to be back in the game. Yes, just one. Unfortunately for Motorola, it’s not the Motorola One.

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