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Reputation is key for Motorola to become a ‘meaningful’ third

Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne
August 2, 2017

Leading analysts back Motorola’s aim of taking third place in the UK smartphone market

Industry analysts have placed their backing behind Motorola’s ambitions to consolidate its position as the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the UK.

The US company, which was bought by Chinese parent Lenovo in 2014 for £1.8 billion, outlined its targets as it launched the Moto Z2 Play earlier in July.

According to recent stats from GfK, Motorola posted the third highest UK sales figures in April behind Apple and Samsung, more than doubling its numbers on the previous year.

The manufacturer, listed in Lenovo’s financials as Mobile Business Group, saw significant gains outside of China in Q4 for the three months ending March 31. The total sales were £1.3 billion, up from over £1.27 billion year-on-year. Smartphone shipments outside of China in that period hit 11.3 million.

The Z2 Play launch marks a return to the Motorola brand after Lenovo made the decision to axe it at the beginning of 2016, opting instead for the Moto and Vibe names. The decision to push ahead with the Motorola name in the UK follows market research where the company found that its original branding
was more recognisable compared to Lenovo or Moto.

Keeping the brand name

Canalys senior analyst Tim Coulling claims the Motorola name will be its best chance of achieving its aim, arguing it is more well-known than rival Huawei. He told Mobile News: “Motorola is arguably better known in the phone space than Lenovo and Huawei, despite Huawei’s efforts at brand-building.

“If you look at the UK market, you’d expect [third place] to change as and when vendors are creating new handsets, and new handsets are being launched, but I think Motorola is a good brand that will continue to do battle against Huawei.”

CCS Insight chief of research Ben Wood agreed, but argued that the company is increasing further competition in a saturated market. Wood said: “The UK market is notoriously brand-conservative, and UK consumers like brands they recognise. Therefore that makes a product like Motorola, which is one of the most established brands in the mobile phone space, attractive in the UK market.

“But there is competition coming in left, right and centre, whether it’s old brands coming back into the market like Nokia, growing brands like Alcatel, or challenger brand like Huawei, so the big challenge for Motorola will be to retain that position if they are able to get it.”

High end

Ovum senior analyst Daniel Gleeson added that Motorola, despite its success and trust, would need to aim for the high-end smartphone market to find success. Gleeson said: “The problem Motorola will face is that those [high] sectors are some of the most competitive in the market, and you have companies that go up and down from year-to-year and month- to-month.

“Lenovo has been very good at maintaining a lot of the brand values of Motorola, and having a brand name that is known, that is familiar, and that gives some assurance of quality is a huge advantage.”

Targeted approach

The Z2 Play boasts a 30-hour battery life and upgraded camera. The rear snapper is now a 12MP dual autofocus pixel camera that has laser autofocus with a 5MP wide view lens and flash added to the front of the device. Inside, the device is powered  by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with 4GB of RAM running Android 7.1.1 Nougat.

Speaking to Mobile News at the launch of the Moto Z2 Play in London, Motorola general manager Miles Norman confirmed that the company is taking a more targeted range to maintain its position towards the ‘head of the pack’.

He said: “From a UK perspective, we’re really pushing, and the ambition is to continue to grow the business and become a meaningful number three player.

“Last year, globally, we launched 35 devices. This year, our portfolio
is going to be 12 to 15, so we’ve more than halved the size of our portfolio to really focus on a targeted approach of where we are going to sell those products.

“There are lot of players in that area between a one per cent and five per cent market share, and at the moment we are towards the head
of that pack, but our focus is on bringing out great devices.”

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