Will the Motorola Razr comeback succeed?

Motorola is reviving the Razr smartphone. The rollout’s sure to be successful, but will it survive in the marketplace? That’s another question entirely…

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Martyn Williams

Motorola is at it again. This time they’re trying to revive the Razr phone. Razr was successful for a few short years (a decade ago), but it rose, then fell, then disappeared entirely as the Apple iPhone, Google Android and Samsung Galaxy rose. Now, since the larger smartphone marketplace is slowing, could this be the right time for Motorola to resurrect the Razr?

First, it’s important to know where Motorola stands today. For decades they were a leader in wireless communications, even before the cellular revolution. They were the strongest brand in the wireless business until the mid-1990s. The StarTac was their last big hit before they crashed and burned.

The history of Motorola in the smartphone marketplace

Back in the day they were cocky, confident and arrogant. They didn’t need any one, and they knew it all. Or so they thought. The walls eventually came tumbling down on them. They quickly became irrelevant in the wireless and smartphone space as the iPhone and Android revolution took over.

Have they learned their lesson? If so, perhaps there’s a chance for longer-term success beyond the brief titillation the marketplace will have with the new Razr.

In the mid-‘90s, the Motorola StarTac was hit. After all, it reminded users of the Star Trek communicator! After several years and several CEO changes, Motorola gave themselves a second chance with the Razr in the mid-2000s. It was a hot phone and users loved it.

When the iPhone and Android hit the marketplace, however, the Razr quickly fell off the radar.

Motorola and Razr now owned by Lenovo

After that, Motorola was struggling to survive for many years. They updated their phone brand to Moto and introduced several devices (like the Moto X) that simply didn’t catch on in any major way.

Motorola was dying on the vine. Eventually, they were acquired by other companies – including Google – and is now owned by Lenovo.

That means the company is no longer in the same place it once was. Perhaps they have a new attitude. Perhaps they’ve learned some humility. Only time will tell.

The smartphone market is slowing down

Today, the high-flying smartphone market with iPhone and Android is slowing down. Apple and Google are still the two big players in the space, and they’ll likely continue to be. However, everyone who wants a smartphone has one. The only new customers left are the youth market.

There are two reasons for this slowdown, both created by Apple and Google themselves. One, the prices are rising too fast and too high. Two, there’s been no real innovation to make the higher prices worthwhile.

What that means is users are no longer trading up every year like they used to. This is something Apple, Google and Samsung could fix. However, it doesn’t look like they will anytime soon.

iPhone and Android slowdown could give Razr a second chance

That creates an opportunity for Motorola or any other smartphone maker to capture the imagination of the marketplace. The question is simple: can they? And can they for the longer-term?

We don’t know much about the new Razr yet. If it’s a folding smartphone that uses Google Android, it may have a chance for success, because it’ll give users access to the vast app market.

Many smartphone users don’t like the path the iPhone and Android devices are on. Many would prefer a smaller device that’s easier to hold and use with one hand. While some users like larger screens and devices, many do not.

This could be good news for the Razr brand. Of course, the price of the Razr is way up there, so that’s not going to help. Users won’t save money compared to an iPhone or Android. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, both initially and in the longer-term.

Blackberry tried to recover and failed, time after time

We’ve seen this before. The Blackberry tried and failed to resuscitate itself. Same with Nokia re-introducing their older, popular phone design. As a nostalgia play, these devices might bring back fond memories…but they just haven’t been successful in today’s marketplace.

Will the Razr be any different?

My prediction is the initial rollout will be successful. With Motorola and Lenovo behind it, the new Razr will certainly be a worthy competitor. The real question is, will the new Razr find an ongoing place in today’s wireless marketplace.

I hope so. Stay tuned…

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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