19 8 / 2011
What is Motorola thinking?
The big Android news of the day was about the practically infamous Droid Bionic finally getting a release date and price. What was shocking to me was the price; $299 on a 2-year contract. All I can think of is that whoever ran the launch of the Xoom must also being handling new Motorola phone releases.
The Xoom in it’s original, 3G-only, configuration was completely overpriced at $599. Make no mistake about it, the Xoom was there to compete head on with the iPad. And while their baseline specs didn’t match up and therefore to compare the price is unfair, it doesn’t matter. When your average Joe walks into Best Buy and sees an iPad at $499 and a Xoom at $599, what do you think they’re going to walk out with? Oh, the Xoom has an extra 16GB of storage? It doesn’t matter. Oh, the Xoom has 3G (which you have to pay for anyway)? It doesn’t matter. Consumers look at price more than any other factor in making purchasing decisions. To put a new product on the self next to an established, and extremely well marketed, product at a significantly higher price is completely stupid. Fast forward a few months and Motorola appeared to learn from their mistake. They released a wi-fi only model, which should have been there from the start and eventually slashed the price. Another move that was too little too late.
So you’d think Motorola would have taken this experience and learned from it. Right? Well, apparently not.
Now, a new Droid Bionic (and Droid Charge if memory serves) will cost you $299 with a new 2-year contract. So, let me get this straight. We all know there’s a fancy new device coming from Cupertino in September. We also know that Apple is smarter than Motorola, and won’t raise the price of the iPhone 5 (see: iPad to iPad 2 launch for excellent evidence). With Verizon now carrying the iPhone and competing even more directly with Android, the platforms are literally sitting there side by side for consumers to choose from. Show of hands on who’s going to pay 33% more for a Droid Bionic over an iPhone 5. Oh, the Droid Bionic has LTE? It doesn’t matter. Oh, the Droid Bionic has a dual core processor? The iPhone 5 likely will as well but even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. Your average Joe doesn’t care about these things, they’re going to simply look at the price and know the iPhone 5 from the worldwide marketing campaign that will surely begin with the iPhone 5 release, and they’ll be choosing black or white instead of iPhone or Android.
I’m an Android nut, so I’ll be that guy paying more for an Android device or just waiting for the inevitable price drop (I give it a month until it’s $199). But the vast majority of consumers are not Android geeks and won’t pay a premium on something they can’t understand or see. I have no idea what the folks at Motorola are thinking with their current pricing of the Charge and Bionic, but unless they want another Xoom failure, they should really start rethinking their strategy.
I’m still holding out for the Nexus Prime or Droid HD, in case you were wondering.