Motorola makes an unexpected comeback, smartphone sales double over last year

by: Robert TriggsAugust 12, 2014

moto e vs moto g (19 of 19)

There has been a bit of shakeup in the smartphone world this year, with manufacturers experiencing a variety of fortunes last quarter. Motorola seems to have fallen in with this year’s success stories, as the latest research shows that the company’s smartphone sales are on a strong upward trend.

According to ABI Research, Motorola sold 8.6 million smartphones in Q2 2014, up from 6.5 million in the first quarter of the year. The second quarter results also witnessed a growth of over 100 percent compared with the same quarter last year. Whilst Motorola might not be near the top five worldwide smartphone vendors, this year has proved to be a remarkable turnaround for a company that appeared down and out not too long ago.

“If you’d asked me about Motorola a year ago, I would have said it was on a distinct trajectory towards oblivion,” Nick Spencer, ABI Research

Analysts believe that Motorola has managed to benefit from this year’s trend away from premium devices, and has thrived from the move towards more affordable handsets with solid specifications for their price.

The Moto E and Moto G have been Motorola’s major recent success stories, and the Moto X’s unique software features and customisation options have also helped bring in consumers looking for additional valve from their devices. Prices have remained more competitive with the cheaper Chinese vendors, helping Motorola to avoid the recent problems experienced by the likes of Samsung.

“As the market for flagship smartphones has softened and a lot of people are looking at buying devices without a contract, Motorola’s Moto E and G seem to have really captured the moment,” Ben Wood, CCS Insight

According to Gartner, the simplicity and lack of clutter associated with more stock Android experience is also helping to drive sales. Growth in the US has been steady, but Motorola’s products have struck a particularly strong chord in European and Indian markets.

Motorola looks set to continue on this positive path with its next line-up of smartphones, which is expected to include a successor to the Moto G and the Moto X+1. Despite the recent takeover, Lenovo might do well to continue with Motorola’s scheduled roadmap, rather than attempt to change course.

  • Jose

    …a bit of a no brainer that they would come back, mostly thanks to the Moto G.

    Other small players like HTC should take notes. Low cost, mid range phones is where the comeback is at, not at the high end with Samsung.

    • MasterMuffin

      But it’s not where the money is at. Yes they get their brand more known, but getting money from that strategy is a slow process

      • Gerard Laframboise

        I think there is plenty of money to be made when you look at those Chinese companies selling tons of bargain devices in emerging markets.

      • Anothermuse

        You can do it, but you have to have volume. That’s what killed the Moto X at launch. They tried to make $200-$300 a phone on it. If it had launched at $399 I think it would have gotten a lot more traction. Though to be fair, consumers may have judged it as sub par because of the price. The N5 last year changed a lot of perceptions about price though. It is a top tier phone with a mid tier price.

    • Noel

      That explains why HTC just decided to introduce the Desire line of devices to the US market at a reasonable price. I hope they will do more of that and will also like to see their top flagship One series shave the price a little below the likes of Sammy, Sony and LG. A vibrant HTC is very crucial to Android.
      Now if they will also get rid of that logo bar and give us more usable screen with a screen to bezel ratio of 80+%….they will hear the sound of $$$$$$$ even louder than it is now.

      • Jesus

        As a investor in HTC, there is no ‘ sound of $$$$$$$’…

        What they need is a phone that can go head on, against the Moto G. They don’t really have that…

        Their Desire 816 is interesting, but definitely not a direct competition to the Moto G. It is priced higher, and the screen… not HD. And that last bit is a big deal in this age. Dual speakers is nice though, but still the screen. And we know about HTC’s camera quality.

        • Noel

          Hopefully the new Desire 510 will fill that gap…just hope they price it correctly. If possible lower than that of moto G2. Pulling 4u HTC

  • Victoria

    I think a big part of their success is due to the MOTO G. This phone was absolute bang for buck and the user experience is just amazing.

    • Anothermuse

      Yes, that line has redefined that whole price point.

    • Sere83

      Yep, shame if the rumours are true they are going to ruin their success with a massive ugly G2 with ugly cheap looking front facing speakers and a bigger lower pixel dense display all at an inflated price tag.

      • Victoria

        I really hope the rumours turn out to be false. The MOTO G was a great device, they don’t need to bump up the size and price or it won’t be as good as the first one.

        • Noel

          Despite the bump in screen size, i hope it comes with very minimal bezels and most important keep the price same or as close to that of the original Moto G. This time around there will be decent mid-range devices from HTC desire series, Sammy and its army of Galaxy mid-rangers, LG, Huawei etc to take a bite at that mid-range market. The one who prices their phone correctly will do well with sales.

    • black baby

      It’s “amazing” because they left it mostly unchanged… Or hardly changed, making it fluid and fast. Like a nexus.

      It’s like they didn’t put in much effort to their benefit.

    • Noel

      Yup bought one for my daughter…it is an amazing mid-range phone with a price hard to beat. I believe if the Moto X was priced between $300-$400…it would have done just as good as the Moto G. I hope Motorola will price the Moto X+1 accordingly so as to avoid a repeat of the Moto X pricing.

      • Victoria

        I hope so too. Aside from the high price for the Moto X I think what limited it’s success was the very limited availability, mostly US-ONLY, and they can avoid that with the Moto X+1.

  • Stephan Hall

    Motorola deserves every bit of it’s recent success. Great product at a great price ….. a formula that always works. The apeal of almost stock android I think has really helped. I hope they stay on course. Why mess with success?

    • Anothermuse

      Kind of along the same lines as my last post, I really think a strong X+1 offering will change the market a lot and start putting more emphasis on value. Not just price but quality at reasonable off contract pricing. Maybe the introduction post I6 will highlight this.

  • Clinton

    The Moto G was key.A bang for the buck product is always a good way to appeal to the customers.
    But I don’t think they can continue with this formula if they wanna make more money.Perhaps the Moto X2/X+1 will bring the fight to the bigboys this time with great hardware.

    • Anothermuse

      It’s a balancing act though. I don’t think Moto should fight it out at the very top tier price wise. If the X+1 can deliver very good performance and features at $399 I think that’s the sweet spot for them. Competing with the $600 off contract phones would seem silly. The adult sized iPhones are going to suck up a lot of that market next month. A Nexus value type of X+1 I think will have a lot of appeal. The leaked specs look great so far. Probably no super duper screen resolution or fingerprint gimmick, but I really think this will be the year of the non flagship phone..

      • Clinton

        You’re right, Motorola should take it one step at a time.They should keep making phones like the Moto G but now the next step would be to bring a top tier device at an ,as you said , affordable price.Moto can do it.
        Last years X was awesome but lacked in outright hardware package, it was more than capable ,but didn’t have the best processing package available at the time.

      • Stephan Hall

        A Nexus like Moto X +1 ….. that would really tempt me. And millions of others!

  • John-Phillip Saayman

    I root for Moto, but I hope those front facing speakers don’t mess up the appeal. Does not really look pretty.

  • Luka Mlinar

    I still think they will lose a bit of that momentum if they continue with the Moto E (ugly silver bars) design. Also Regina Dugan spending millions on pointless projects like making cartoons is questionable at best.

    • Adon

      They need to look back at what sold well. The Razr V Series

      • Clinton

        That Phone was Awesome.Maybe now that Android wear is taking off and google starting to optimize android for small screen wrist wear, It could be possible to bring back the flip phone design.

        The recent samsung flip android phone was horrible ,and regular android isn’t suited for small screen devices.

        So an Android wear enabled Moto Razr would be awesome.It could also mean you could use a relatively low power consumption OS but with room for a larger battery, we could almost have those old days of week long battery life. I’d buy that for sure. .

        • Adon

          so right, especially with the smaller screen. Optimization or a minimal setup could wear,besides, all these smart watchs had android os’s. Or Maybe if they made the screen bigger . Really stylish.

      • Luka Mlinar

        That model sold well, not that design.

  • YuuriAyano

    Too bad Sony has been failing on this market segment recently. Kudos to Motorola!

    Please make your devices available to the Philippines. A lot of us WANT to buy your devices.

    • Jesus

      “in this segment”.
      Do you mean mid range – low range phones? Sony always sucked there. I remember my old xperia that had software too good for its own hardware, making it lag life f*ck. Never again.

      • YuuriAyano

        Yup. Their old lineup was really not that good but I guess they have it together now with their current low/midrange offerings. Still not a good match to Motorola. Their flagships are pretty good though.

  • makapav

    Unexpected? How the fuck was it anything but expected to anyone looking at the industry last September ago? This Nick Spencer needs to pull his head out of his ass.

    Why Motorola was destined to win in the long run based on the Moto X release:

    1. Near stock Android
    2. No meaningless customization to the interface
    3. Innovation at almost every turn: camera gesture actions, persistent voice actions even when device was turned off, active notifications, custom body designs, streamlined ordering process (with or without contract)
    4. Faster than Nexus updates (yes, the Moto X received updates to KitKat BEFORE the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 7 2012)
    5. Ripping out all Motorola custom software into Play Store
    6. Top quality build materials

    Where I feel their strategy was off:

    1. Price ($200 too high)
    2. Camera was sub-par (but they have never been strong in that department and clearly upgrading the quality of the camera was not their priority in this version of the Moto X.)
    3. You can harp about SD card or removable batteries – but those are common to all manufacturers between models. They are offering 64GB versions now for a reasonable price bump.

    • yungqb7

      I agree. Motorola has definitely found a better path right now (compared to their days of moto blur). If they had a Sony lens and microSD support, I would be up for consideration for me.

    • Stephen Sisco

      $200 was too high? They were literally making a 5% profit on each Moto G.

      • makapav

        You probably missed that my post was for the Moto X and not for any budget phones which are almost loss-leaders for them.

  • MeanDroid

    The key to Motorola recent success, was undoubtedly the Moto G, with great value for money.
    Low price handset with good enough specs + up to date firmware updates!

    If Lenovo can keep that ball rolling, than they will have a long term success.

    Posted from my Moto G LTE “XT1039”

  • adamhs

    I hope the new Motorola masters and other manufacturers are paying attention as we the consumers speak with our dollars. We value user experience over pure specs. Well…intelligent people do anyway who know more beyond “which number is bigger than which number.”

  • Adon

    Now make a OnePlus One Killer and bring back the Razr V series, V3/V9 Android style. Go on,DO IT ALREADY. ;-)