Motorola announced a few days ago the highly anticipated Moto X handset, and revealed that a Google Play edition of the device will be available in due time, directly from its Google Play Store. But is that really a good thing?
At first, one could think that it makes perfect sense for Google to have a Nexus-like Moto X in the Play Store, but that may not necessarily be the case.
The Google Play editions of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One are great devices for those people that want to explore stock Android on two of this year’s flagship handsets and receive timely updates when new Android versions get released.
But there are also trade offs, as some software features found on the Galaxy S4 or the HTC One will not be available on Google Play edition handsets. After all, everything is replaced with stock elements from Android. There’s no Blinkfeed or HTC Zoe for the HTC One, and there aren’t Samsung apps on the Galaxy S4 model.
With that in mind, it would be logical to assume that a Moto X that would run stock Android would also lose some of its perks including customization support, camera features, contextual features and the always-on Google Now-powered voice-based intelligence (see our full review of the Moto X here).
Think about it, a Moto X Google Play edition would get to run Android 4.3 Jelly Bean faster than the regular models. But is it worth giving up on all the other smart features that make the Moto X unique in order to have a Google Play edition experience? Wouldn’t all the hardware that supports those interesting software features go to waste if Google were to choose to launch a Moto X Google Play edition without Moto X software features?
On the other hand, it wouldn’t be fair from Google to keep those features in place on a Moto X Google Play edition that comes without carrier bloatware and has the latest Android version on board, would it?
Let’s not forget that Google is still saying that it’s not favoring Motorola, its own subsidiary, when it comes to Android and Android devices. But releasing a Moto X Google Play edition with Android 4.3 on board and with all the Moto X smart features in place would mean that Google would somewhat be favoring Motorola after all. Not to mention that the handset would not run stock Android anymore.
Finally, the Moto X actually runs a close-to-stock Android version already. Not counting carrier bloatware, one could conclude that a Google Play edition version of the handset is not really required.
While we are speculating on the future Moto X Google Play edition version at this point, it looks like Leo Laporte does have some information on the device.
Laporte said in episode 210 of his “This Week in Google” show, that the Moto X version that will be sold in the Google Play store will not be a “stock” Android version, as the handset will still run its default software, sans carrier bloatware. Apparently Guy Kawasaki told him as much.
As we said above, that wouldn’t be exactly fair, In such a case, wouldn’t it make more sense to have the unlocked Moto X sold via Motorola’s online store, or via a special online store set up for the Moto X and future devices from the family?
The Moto X has a full price of $575 or $625, depending on memory capacity, with some retailers already listing the 16GB version at $699.99. That would mean that Google would also have to sell the Moto X for full price, probably of around $575 for the 16GB version, wouldn’t it?
Word on the street is that carriers pay around $350 for the handset, which would mean that price drops could be in order at some point, especially for a Google Play edition version.
Dropping the price for a Google Play edition of the phone would (again) look like Google is favoring Moto X over the HTC One or Galaxy S4 when it comes to Google Play Store sales, and that’s definitely not something it wants to do, does it?
On the other hand, keeping a high price in place for a Moto X with pure Android on board wouldn’t be a great deal either in a scenario in which Google would drop the smart features of the phone.
The Moto X is an interesting device only as long as these new software features are available to the user. Without the always-on commands, the Active Display or new camera – to name just a few – the Moto X really is a middle-of-the-pack device, with the HTC One or the Galaxy S4 looking like better alternatives for Google Play Store action for the same price.
Finally, keeping a high price for a Moto X Google Play edition that has all the default Moto X features on board sounds more logical for Google, but then we’re back to square one – we have a Google Play edition of a device that’s not exactly running stock Android.
With all that in mind, we can’t but wonder whether it’s a good idea for Google to sell the phone directly from its Google Play Store as long as it wants to still keep in place the appearance that it’s not favoring Motorola in any way (on features and/or price).
In the future, once Google fully embraces its subsidiary, it won’t matter what Motorola-made hardware is or isn’t sold from the Google Play Store.
For consumers though, having the option to buy a cheap, unlocked Moto X Google Play edition with all its software features in place would be a great alternative, no matter whether seeing such a device in the Google Play Store makes sense or not.