A friend will help you move, but a true friend will help you move a body, or so it's said.
This witticism might describe the customer relationship sought by companies like Motorola Mobility with products like Motorola Migrate, its migration assistance technology. For the sake of your friendship and future patronage, Motorola will help you move the corpus of your data from whatever Android or iOS smartphone has fallen from favor.
On Tuesday, the Google-owned company updated Motorola Migrate, an Android app designed to transfer data to one of five Motorola phone models, with the ability to access Apple iPhone data, through that company's iCloud service.
"One of the biggest pains of a new phone is leaving behind important stuff on your old phone," Motorola explains in its Google Play listing. "Now you can move the most important content from your old to your new phone in just a few steps, wirelessly."
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Motorola Migrate can transfer photos, videos, text history, call history, and SIM contacts to Moto X, Moto G, Droid Maxx, Droid Mini, and Droid Ultra devices. It can't transfer iOS apps, however.
Motorola is following in a path walked by Google as it tried to convince customers to abandon the familiar world of Microsoft Office for its cloud-based Google Apps suite. In 2010, Google introduced Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange, software designed to help companies shift data from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps. That was shortly after Google debuted Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, to allow Outlook users to connect to Google Apps as a back end, and Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes.
Cloud Sherpas, an IT integrator that helps companies move to Google Apps, offers a similar migration tool for Novell GroupWise customers.
Before Google, it was Apple that championed migrations away from Microsoft territory, first with its "switchers" marketing campaign in 2002 and subsequently with software such as its Windows Migration Assistant.
Microsoft, which never really bothered with wooing the small share of non-Windows users during the PC era, in December borrowed a page from the migration playbook to entice Gmail users to switch to Outlook.com. It now offers a tool to move Gmail messages to Outlook.com's servers. That followed the 2011 debut of software to make it easier for developers to adapt iOS apps to Windows Phone.
The marketing of migration has even hit the mobile carrier market, which has sought to limit customer churn through contractual commitments. T-Mobile recently began promising to pay the early termination fees incurred by customers breaking their mobile contracts with competing carriers to join T-Mobile.
Whatever else can be said about companies that aspire to friendly relations with their customers, those that earn customer loyalty in the first place don't have to worry about being abandoned.
Thomas Claburn is editor-at-large for InformationWeek. He has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and his mobile game Blocfall Free is available for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire.
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