Written by: Jeff Kagan
Motorola was king of the wireless hill for decades until it lost its way and fell to the bottom of the handset and smartphone space. It was acquired by Google, then Lenovo, but the company still struggled for many years. Now it seems there is some good news coming from Moto. Could this comeback be long-term, or just another blip like it had before?
Let’s pull the camera back and take a longer-term historical look at the wireless industry, Motorola and its chances of recovery.
Pull the camera back and take a long-term look at the wireless industry
In the late 1990s Motorola was riding high with its StarTAC analog wireless phone. Then the wireless world quickly switched from analog to digital, and Motorola lost its way.
The company dropped from the leadership position to the bottom of the pack almost overnight. It has tried many times since then to recover, without long-term success.
When the RAZR first hit the market, it was a success, but that was fleeting.
Remember, first Motorola led the space for decades. Next, it stumbled and quickly went to the bottom of the competitor list.
Then Nokia and Blackberry took over the lead. They led the handset and smartphone side of the business for the next decade.
Then, just like Motorola did, Nokia and Blackberry quickly collapsed also, giving way to iPhone and Android whose growth was enormous and quick.
That’s where we have been ever since.
Qualcomm, Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia are the leaders in the 5G wireless race
So where are these companies today? Blackberry is still struggling, but it has important technology that is valuable as privacy and security concerns rise.
Nokia shifted from handsets and has become an important player in the networking side of the business.
Today, Nokia, along with Qualcomm, Huawei, Ericsson and others are helping wireless networks upgrade to 5G.
Motorola never gave up trying
The thing is, Motorola never gave up. It never threw in the towel like so many other competitors.
Motorola’s big mistake was it had been a leader for so long that it lost its way. The company just assumed the industry would always follow the leader.
Wireless had a mind of its own, however, leaving Motorola behind in the dust of a fast-changing industry.
Motorola has been showing slow growth again in wireless
Continuing to plug away, year after year, decade after decade, Motorola has not really shown rapid growth, but it has been showing slow and consistent growth in recent years.
This slow growth has not been perceptible, but it has been occurring.
In fact, today it has roughly 11 percent of the smartphone marketplace. Motorola is still far behind iPhone and Android, which together own this space, but 11 percent is respectable and puts Motorola ahead of the Google Pixel smartphone, which is saying something.
Motorola has 11 percent market share
Today, Motorola’s position is behind Samsung Galaxy by 21 points and ahead of Google Pixel by 10 points.
Believe it or not, this is a good position from which it can show growth going forward.
The newest thing is foldable smartphones. Samsung has a foldable smartphone. So does Motorola. And Motorola calls its version the razr. Yes, that name just never dies… it just morphs.
Today, the razr has become a folding screen smartphone. It is being updated with the newest version of Android and is starting to move toward the 5G world.
Motorola's never say die, never give up, never surrender attitude
I have to say that I respect this never say die attitude of Motorola.
It was once the leader in analog wireless phones. Then it lost its way for quite a long time as the industry moved ahead without it.
In recent years, however, Motorola's attempt to restart its stalled growth engines has seen some level of success.
Can Motorola continue to grow?
So, the real question is this… can Motorola continue to grow? Or will this just be another short-term blip on the radar?
Remember, success in wireless is a bumpy road, not a smooth runway. The competition with Android and iPhone will keep Motorola on its toes.
Could it grow into a powerful player in the smartphone space once again? Stranger things have happened in the past.
Anything is possible in the wonderful world of wireless. And to tell you the truth, I would welcome Motorola back to the competitive playing field.
It will be good to see this solid wireless brand rev its growth engines once again and transform itself for the future. I think the company has learned important lessons after dealing with failure for an extended period of time.
Hopefully, Motorola can get back on track again. So far, so good. Now, let’s see what it's got under the hood!
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