The Motorola Phone That Isn't A Phone - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
9/11/2009
11:36 AM
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The Motorola Phone That Isn't A Phone

Motorola's new Google Android-powered Cliq smartphone (called Dext everywhere else in the world) will offer intriguing new social media tools. I think it should go to town with the new utility.

Motorola's new Google Android-powered Cliq smartphone (called Dext everywhere else in the world) will offer intriguing new social media tools. I think it should go to town with the new utility.The idea that any manufacturer could beat Apple's iPhone without mimicking its functionality isn't practical, as the growing number of sorta-kinda-works-similarly competitors have demonstrated. I'm not sure there's any real opportunity to out-design the card-deck look, and I doubt that any manufacturer is going to give us a smartphone shaped like a popsicle, or configured like a tiara.

The breakthroughs need to come by changing the utility of the devices, and that's what it seems that Motorola's Cliq will do (however inadvertently). Its service, called MotoBlur, will smooth user access to multiple social media sites.

Telephony is an afterthought, or at least a given for the product. So why is the new product called a "smartphone," or hobbled with one of those goofy category-specific names like "Cliq?"

It just seems so pedestrian, if not downright off target.

Couldn't the brand experts have come up with some new approach? Motorola desperately needs it, and using nomenclature that didn't sound like standard phone marketing would have helped. "Social media" could have featured prominently in describing the purpose of the device. Maybe the brand name could have had some meaning or relevance, instead of sounding so generically techie. Oh yes, and you could use the thing to make calls, too.

Motorola has the chance to sell the first phone that isn't a phone. Is it creating a missed opportunity instead?

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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