New York: Motorola, the brand which invented the mobile phone, brought us the iconic “Motorola brick”, and gave us both the first flip-phone and the iconic Razr, is to cease to exist.
Bought from Google by the Chinese smartphone and laptop powerhouse Lenovo in January 2014, Motorola had found success over the past two years. It launched the Moto G in early 2014, which propelled the brand, which had all but disappeared after the Razr, from a near-0% market share to 6% of sales in the UK.
The Moto G kickstarted the reinvigoration of the brand, which saw Motorola ship more than 10m smartphones in the third quarter of 2014, up 118% year-on-year.
But now Lenovo has announced that it will kill off the US mobile phone pioneer’s name. It will keep Moto, the part of Motorola’s product naming that has gained traction in recent years, but Moto smartphones will be branded under Lenovo.
Motorola chief operating officer Rick Osterloh told Cnet that “we’ll slowly phase out Motorola and focus on Moto”.
The Moto line will be joined by Lenovo’s Vibe line in the low end, leaving the fate of the Moto E and G uncertain. The Motorola Mobility division of Lenovo will take over responsibility for the Chinese manufacturer’s entire smartphone range.
A Lenovo spokesperson said: “Motorola Mobility continues to exist as a Lenovo company and is the engineering and design engine for all of our mobile products.”
They said that the company hadn’t used the Motorola brand specifically on its products since the Moto X in 2013, despite being used on the packaging and website branding.
Reception of the news was mixed. Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel said: “The only segment where this might help is within the enterprise market, just because of Lenovo’s presence within computers, but even there it is not necessary.”
Osterloh said that it will be a consolidation of brands to cover a larger market segment, with the Vibe handsets targeting a segment of smartphones costing $100 or less in the US.
But for many, the loss of the Motorola brand is an end of an era showing just how far the pioneering US phone company has fallen.