Motorola X Phone, a Google unicorn: ‘real breakthrough,’ ‘a game changer’?

February 13, 2013
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Motorola X Phone

Remember when Google was repeatedly telling the press that it wouldn’t treat Motorola any differently than any other Android device maker now that it owns the company? That may not be entirely the case, at least not with the X Phone that’s rumored to be unveiled at Google I/O and launch later this year.

The unconfirmed report

A new report from SmartHouse says that Telstra, an Australian carrier, has reasons to be excited about the product said to hit stores later in July, as the X Phone will come with software never before seen in a smartphone:

According to Telstra sources, Hugh Bradlow, Chief Technology Officer for Telstra, has told senior mobile staff at Telstra the new device is a “real breakthrough, a game changer that will put pressure on Samsung and Apple”. […]

“Google has been working on this device for a long time. It has software features and capabilities that are not available on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone or Apple iPhone. The software is really powerful and it pulls together Google services like no other manufacturer has done in the past,” a reliable source told SmartHouse.

However, the tipsters were not ready to offer any actual details about the X Phone’s specs and features and we’ll have to wait for more leaks to learn new details about the device.

Obviously, we expect the X Phone to come packing Android 5 Key Lime Pie especially if it’s announced at Google I/O 2013, which happens to be indeed “software never before seen before in a smartphone,” because, let’s face it, it hasn’t been seen so far.

And obviously, none of it is confirmed so far.

The broken promise?

But considering all the hype in this new report, isn’t calling the handset a “real breakthrough” a bit much for today’s smartphone landscape? Can it be “a game changer” that will indeed put pressure on Samsung and Apple?

In case the answer is yes to any or both of these questions, does that mean that Google didn’t really mean it when it said it won’t treat Motorola differently than any other handset maker?

Nexus_4_vs_iPhone_5

Motorola Nexus

Meant to reassure its partners, Google’s previous statements regarding Motorola hardware were probably intended to address two immediate concerns: that Google will not choose Motorola as its only go-to company for Nexus devices and that Google will not sell high-end Motorola hardware at cost to undercut Apple, but also Android OEMs in the process.

Since the Motorola purchase was finalized, Google launched three Nexus devices, all made by other-than-Motorola companies – well four if you count the Nexus Q failure as well. We’re looking at the Asus Nexus 7 models, the LG Nexus 4 handset and the Samsung Nexus 10 tablet. But no Motorola Nexus – in fact a Google exec did say that the Motorola purchase was mostly about patents, thus crushing some Motorola Nexus dreams in the process.

Selling devices at cost

While it did not launch any Moto Nexus device, when it comes to pricing, Google did sell devices at cost in 2012, although these were not made by Motorola.

The company had to come out with an aggressive offer for the Nexus 7, a device seen as a fix to Google’s Amazon Kindle Fire unofficial problem, but you can’t argue that the move didn’t hurt Android tablet makers as well.

But why did it launch a high-end Nexus 4 smartphone priced at mid-ranged levels? To snub carriers one could say, carriers who aren’t ready to accept Google’s Nexus the same way they do with Apple’s iPhone. But that low Nexus 4 price may have somehow hurt Android handset makers as well, and would have hurt them even further had Google ordered enough Nexus 4s to go around.

All the while, it launched Motorola RAZR-branded products that were not even running the latest Android version – maybe to confirm its stance on Motorola hardware – and its subsidiary kept losing money in the following two quarters since being purchased by the Search giant.

So technically, Google did not give Motorola any preferential treatment in the eight months since finalizing the purchase.

X Phone vs competition

But if this new report is to be believed, Google has been working with Motorola on this handset for a long time while talking a different talk.

And it will be interesting to see how the X Phone will compete in this year’s high-end smartphone market. We’ll have a bunch of interesting devices fighting for their share of the profits including the Sony Xperia Z, the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the seventh-generation iPhone to name just a few of flagship devices we expect to see in stores.

galaxy s3 vs iphone5

From a different point of view, the quote in the SmartHouse report (above) is very interesting, as the X Phone seems to be portrayed as a device that will put pressure on Samsung first, and Apple after. Does Google have a Samsung problem, one that it can’t officially confirm? You know, Samsung getting most of the profits in the Android universe, with everyone else nowhere near Samsung’s performance? In such a case, does Google need to intervene with its own high-end device to show the world that not just Galaxy devices are worth buying?

After all, it was a Motorola Droid that rallied Android a few years ago in its fight against the iPhone, so it could be another Motorola Android handset that could help model the direction Android is heading to. Whatever the case is, we’ll definitely be here to cover this never-before-seen X Phone smartphone.

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