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[Opinion] The hype, leaks, and teasers ruined the Moto X

I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of official news announced today surrounding the Moto X had already been leaked or speculated in one way or another over the past 5 months. Is this a good thing? At the time, I thought it was
August 1, 2013
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Motorola’s coveted Moto X is no secret having been leaked five months ago in Vietnam. Since then, the Moto X has continually leaked over and over again. While some inside tips have been small, others have been extremely large and revealing. I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of official news announced today had already been leaked or speculated in one way or another. Is this a good thing? At the time, I thought it was.

Let me start off by saying that I’ve contributed to the hype and the rumor mongering. I love leaks. I love hypebeasting Android phones. It’s what I do. However, this time around I think the massive amounts of hype from Android news websites, including this one you’re reading right now, have played a part in ruining the Moto X for me. If enthusiastic tech blogs partially ruined the Moto X for me, the remaining part is surely to be Motorola themselves with their marketing plan.

Hypebeasting: Could the Moto X live up to the hype we created for it?

Almost two years ago, Google let the world know that they planned to purchase Motorola Mobility. This would be Google’s largest accquisition to date, bigger than YouTube’s $1.7 billion and bigger than DoubleClick’s $3.7 billion purchases. Motorola’s price would come in at a cool $12.5 billion. At the time, it was speculated that Google was interested in Motorola for their large patent portfolio seeing as Motorola invented the first commercially available cell phone. These patents were speculated to arm Google with enough legal might, if el Goog should need it, to take on Android legal battles that loomed off in the distance. And so, a new Motorola began.

Last fall, under new ownership, Motorola launched 3 new “DROID’s” on Verizon Wireless. The RAZR M, RAZR HD, and RAZR HD MAXX were the first three Android phones to come out of Google’s Motorola. It was quickly made clear to all of us that these three phones were not of Google’s doing. We were told that Motorola had a device roadmap in place and that these devices were long planned before Google came into the picture.

Droid Razr HD

So we waited. We waited for for the old Motorola to dwindle away and for Google’s Motorola to finally arrive. The tech news industry doesn’t wait though. Leaks started to emerge from far away lands. Immediately, this sparked a flame across the Android community, we knew something different was going on at Motorola and we liked it. We saw leaks of a stock-looking, Nexus 4-ish device. This device had Google’s influence written all over it. Finally, our time of a Google influenced smartphone was on the horizon.

Moto X Prototype
Purported Google X Phone prototype | Image credit: Tinhte

Over the next few months the Moto X slowly leaked cross the Internet. We saw FCC documents, press renders, official commercials, APKs, and reports from sources with inside information. There’s way to many to list here. Seriously, this phone was the worst kept secret of all time. Anyways, all of these juicy tidbits kept the Moto X out of the back of our minds and onto the tips of our tongues. And, why wouldn’t we talk about it? We love Google, we love new devices , and we love innovative technology.

We, the media built the Moto X up over the past 5 months into something massive. I’ll even argue that the Moto X had more hype than the HTCOne and similar hype to the Samsung Galaxy S4. Why? Motorola is now a Google owned company. The Moto X was going to be big news.

Could Motorola live up to their teasers and subtle advertisements?

Android blogs and tech news websites aren’t the only ones to blame for the insane amount of hype following this device. During the last month, Motorola has done their share of official hypbeasting as well from full page ads in prominent locations, to blanketing social media sites, to teasing announcements at tech conferences.

Motorola X Phone Ad

Motorola officially teased the Moto X back at All Things D when CEO Dennis Woodside confirmed that his company was working on the Moto X. A press statement shortly followed announcing that the Moto X was “designed, engineered, and assembled” right here in the United States of America.

Motorola continued with their teasers, the biggest being a full page ad in well subscribed newspapers around the country. Motorola officially let the world know a few things with that advertisement. First, they let the world know that the Moto X is coming. Second, they let the world know that Motorola is a Google company, if you don’t happen to follow tech news. And lastly, they teased one of the most important features surrounding the Moto X. Freedom. Choice. You. The Moto X was going to give you, the consumer, freedom to make your own choices.


The 4th of July ad wasn’t the only time Motorola talked about choice, touting the upcoming Moto X customization features. Motorola took to their social channels to let the world know that getting your morning cup of Joe shouldn’t be the only choice in your life. What a novel idea indeed, to customize your mobile phone just the way you like it. Heck, they even teased about matching your shoe laces to the chair they are propped up on. But they didn’t stop there. Guy Kawasaki, a Motorola employee teased the Moto X customization features, comparing them to ordering a luxury car online. The Moto X was to bring customization to smartphones like something we have never seen, a truly unique experience. This was exciting.


The Moto X becomes official, did it meet expectations?

Did the Moto X live up to the hype that we and Motorola created for it? I’ll say partially. Nearly every feature that was announced today we already knew about. We knew about the hardware specs. We knew about the software features. That leaves two things left for us to get excited about 1) customization and 2) pricing.

The customization for the Moto X, dubbed Moto Maker, was even better than I had anticipated. You can customize the hell out of your Moto X. In fact there’s over 2,00 combinations of colored back covers, the front, button and camera accents, and storage. THIS is what we want. This is the truly unique idea that Motorola teased as about all this time. …If you’re an AT&T customer. That’s right. AT&T has an exclusive on the Moto Maker. It’s said to be coming to other carriers in the future, but no one knows at this time when the AT&T exclusive feature ends.

How in the actual hell can Motorola put out advertisements about freedom and choice if they aren’t offering those capabilities? Having an exclusive launch to one of the most advertised features is anything but freedom and certain isn’t choice.

Don’t worry, Moto Maker is coming to other carriers some day. Verizon Wireless has already said it’s coming eventually and the wording surrounding AT&T’s exclusivity definitely points towards it ending at some point. Will it be 30 days? 60 days? 90 days? Ugh. No one is saying at this point.

Moto X. Black & White. Verizon Wireless. Coming Soon. Moto Maker coming later this year #MeetMotoX #4G LTE
— Verizon Wireless (@VZWnews) August 1, 2013
Pricing was the other aspect of the Moto X that we needed to wait for today’s announcement officially get. We had assumed that pricing would be much lower than normal due to Motorola using an “older” Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU and a 720p screen. The other big players in the smartphone market are putting out 1080p smartphones with quad-core processors. Motorola choosing to put out a ‘mid-range’ phone with optimized hardware and software led us to believe that this phone was going to be for everyone in terms of pricing. Remember, Google debuted the Nexus 4 at $299 last fall. Many people, including myself, speculated that the Moto X would be available for similar pricing off-contract with the on-contract pricing being much lower.

Boy were we wrong. Carriers that have announced pricing have stated that they’ll be selling the Moto X at $199 on-contract and at $575 off-contract. That’s not what we were expecting for a phone with this hardware, or from a Google owned company.

While the hardware specs and software features might be on part with my expectations, the customization features and pricing are truly saddening.

Is the Moto X still for me?

If you’re on AT&T, then you’re in the clear if you wanted to get the Moto X. And, you should want it. It’s a great little phone with some pretty innovative and unique features. Not everyone is on AT&T though. If you’re fine with getting a black or white version of the Moto X and don’t need custom colors or engraving, then by all means, go and get it. Even without the freedom to customize your phone as you see fit, the Moto X is still a great phone.

If you’re like me, you were hoping for the Moto X to be your savior. As a Verizon Wireless customer whom missed out on the Nexus 4, I was hoping this would fill a void that I’ve had for the better part of a year. I love stock Android. I need stock Android. Verizon Wireless has not been able to fill that void for me since the Galaxy Nexus launched in December 2011. I don’t want a TouchWiz phone. I don’t want a Sense phone. I don’t want one of Verizon’s upcoming DROIDs with hardware keys, even though they have similar specs. I want Google’s clean, simple version of Android. The Motorola X offers this with minimal Verizon “bloatware”. This is something that no other Verizon phone can do.

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Is the Moto X still for me? I’ll say yes even though the announcements today left me quite pissed off. For what I’m looking for in an Android smartphone, the Moto X is still the best choice for me. The big elephant in the room is when do I buy one? I want the full Moto Maker experience. I know as a Verizon customer, I can’t have that. Do I go with a white or black? Or do I play the waiting game. The problem with the waiting game is there’s always another phone on the horizon. Especially when Google likes to launch Nexus phones in the fall, though I doubt Verizon Wireless will ever see one again.

Wrap up

I say the Moto X was ruined for me because nothing excited me today. Today only brought resentment. If I lived in a cave for the past 5 months or even the past month, then today would have been very exciting. I would have been like a child in a candy story, giddy and grinning from ear to ear. I wish I felt that excitement. Right now, I don’t. Still, I’ll most likely end up getting the Moto X. I won’t be getting it for the wow factor though. I’ll be getting it because it’s the only choice that I really have.

Let me know in the comments: Is the Moto X for you? If you’re not on AT&T are you going to hold out for t heir exclusive customization to end or are you going to go with boring black or white? Me, I have no clue.