THE INSIDE STORY OF THE MOTO X:
THE PHONE THAT REVEALS WHY GOOGLE BOUGHT MOTOROLA
Motorola’s Moto X, the first smartphone fully assembled in the United States. Photo: Brian L. Frank/WIRED
lmost exactly two years ago, Google announced its purchase of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. It was the company’s biggest deal ever, far exceeding previous big buys like YouTube for $1.7 billion and DoubleClick for $3.1 billion. Both of those acquisitions were hugely successful, but the Motorola purchase seemed baffling. Mainly, it seemed to provide Google with valuable intellectual property that would allow the company to defend itself against a tidal wave of patent lawsuits. Motorola—the inventor of the very first cell phone—had a great patent portfolio indeed. But the estimated worth of those patents was less than half Google’s purchase price. The other portion brought Google a money-bleeding Chicago-area-based hardware business. The purchase would almost double Google’s head count with employees who brought little to the bottom line. Employees who were not Googly, in a business that seemingly didn’t scale. What was Google thinking?
Finally, we have the answer. The Moto X, announced today, marks the arrival, finally, of the Google Phone.
The Moto X is the first in a series of hardware products that Google hopes will supercharge the mother company’s software and services. A svelte slab with smooth curves at its edge, purpose-built to fit in the palm of your hand. It is designed for mass appeal, not just a slice of the population like Star Wars fans. It has its share of features that distinguish it from the pack, particularly in a period where some of the market leaders are reloading their innovation guns. These include persistent notifications, user-customizable design components, instant photo-capture, and hands-free authentication.
But the defining feature of the Moto X is it’s a virtual ear, always straining to hear its owner’s voice say three magic words that will rouse it to action: “Okay, Google Now.”
Utter those, and a Moto X user becomes master of the universe—to the degree that Google, its developers, and the users themselves have digitized it. The Android mobile operating system was always intended as a gateway drug to Google products and ads. (“We don’t monetize the things we create,” Android creator Andy Rubin once told me. “We monetize users.”) And Moto X is a tool to free-base Google. That’s why, after years of Rubin and others saying, “There is no Google phone,” when referring to Android implementations, this one finally qualifies.
“If you look at what services are most used on smart phones, it’s obvious that they’re things like maps, mail and search—things that Google does,” says Dennis Woodside, Motorola’s new CEO, who formerly headed Google’s domestic sales operation. “Rather than mess with that, we wanted to build a device that makes those services as easy to access as possible.” Making “touchless control” an access point to Google Now, he says, is a prime example of that strategy. “Google Now is a high-speed on-ramp to all that great stuff that Google is building.”
Mo bout moto>http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/...ory-of-moto-x/