Feeds

Only one man can save Motorola

You need Hans, to brush away the tears

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Column Whose fault is it Motorola is in the mess it is in now? In some ways it is impossible to point a finger, but if you want a name it's Geoffrey Frost.

Frost was the marketing man who moved from Nike to Motorola. With him he took the glory and success of being a top brand. At Motorola he built the Hello Moto campaign. He was singularly responsible for a marketing approach to design. While Nokia phones all look like simple rectangles, and Samsung phones look like toilet seats, Motorola phones in 2001 looked like a bit of everything. There was no design language. You couldn’t go into a shop and recognise a Motorola phone.

It was with Frost the insistence of common design was born. It led to the two styles of phone – the Razor and the Pebble. The Razor was never supposed to be any more than a "halo product". Just as Ford lost money on building the Ford GT, the Razor was expected to sell fewer than a million phones. Its job was to reflect glory on the rest of Motorola.

It might even have been OK if just a few hundred were made to be gifts for important customers and to be handed out in the Oscar award goodie bags. Motorola has tight rules on what is allowed in a phone design. It needs to be fairly risk free in terms of engineering, it needs to have established demand, and parts need to be plentiful. Razor broke these rules and many more. It didn't even have a conventional codename – Motorola uses place names – Razor was the name all through development, but it stuck.

The rules were broken because Geoffrey was Geoffrey and he was allowed his indulgence of one, unimportant, phone as a marketing tool. He argued it didn't have to make a profit all it had to do was break even, like the V70 before it and it was free publicity.

Geoffrey put Motorola on the road to success. Over 100m Razrs have been sold. It lost the 'o' not through clever marketing but through a threat of litigation. If you find early announcement material it will have the O in there. The four letter thing then stuck and went on to Pebl and other products.

Geoffrey proved that by working against the system and the rules you could build a hit. He was the friend of the maverick engineer. Not a role you usually find in a marketeer. He did many of the big deals, he identified music as being key to success well ahead of the market. He was popular with the big networks who bought tens of millions of phones.

So why is Motorola's failure his fault?

It’s because he died.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.