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Summary:

Motorola’s desire to become a consumer electronics giant might have to wait another day. Reports says that Moto and its manufacturing partner, Proview International of Hong Kong, have ended their alliance to make Motorola TVs for the Chinese market. Thank god! This was going to be […]

Motorola’s desire to become a consumer electronics giant might have to wait another day. Reports says that Moto and its manufacturing partner, Proview International of Hong Kong, have ended their alliance to make Motorola TVs for the Chinese market. Thank god! This was going to be a colossal cock-up and a sheer waste of dollars for Motorola, not to mention dilution of its core brand. In my opinion, trying to get into TV-hardware business is like getting into the buggy-whip business back in the 1900s. You know where the market is headed. Make good cell phones Moto, and profits will follow. Sometimes, its a good thing to focus.

By Om Malik

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  1. I don’t know how old you are, but Motorola made its bones making TVs long ago, so I’m not sure what you mean by ‘diluting its core brand’.

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  2. Motorola is now all about cellphones. what they did in the past does not matter. when they say Moto, it means, phones, not TV. when they say Sony it means TV not cars. which is what it means when i say core brand

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  3. You might be confusing product, or advertising, with brand. Or you might just be confusing Motorola with one-trick-pony Nokia.

    It’s true the **consumer** product Motorola is most closely associated with phones (and accessories) …today.

    But the Motorola “core brand” has a lot more to do with a heritage of innovation and reliability than a specific consumer product line.

    Maybt you mean that **to you** Motorola is about phones, because that’s what you see advertised, and what’s discussed in the consumer blogosphere. What does that really have to do with Motorola’s positioning in China?

    Globally (in both senses), Motorola’s core brand considers that the first lunar transmission was made via Motorola equipment. First car radio was a Motorola. First quadband phone, etc. Maybe its more about wireless than the latest phone, maybe more about mobility than the device.

    Then you have Motorola’s work in infrastructure…wireless networks and mission critical radio systems. What about Motorola’s broadband technology? What brand is your cable/dsl modem? Mine’s a Motorola.

    Embedded automotive telematics, Motorola is the worldwide market leader.

    To some people loyal to the Motorola brand, Motorola also means the first PPC chip, which competed head on with Pentiums.

    To yet others the Motorola brand is linked to the fact that firefighters rush into burning buildings with only Motorola devices connecting them to the outside world.

    For those who understand and share the brand values, and for those who are loyal to the brand, a Motorola TV might seem like a good choice (especially, if Motorola were to embed current it wireless/broadband technology). Outside the developed world, the market for buggy whips thrived well into the 20th century. (Incidentally, you can make a good argument about how cell phone makers risk becoming the buggy whip pushers at in the beginning of the 00’s).

    Using product-centric brand logic, Apple should never have launched the iPod…Apple means computers, not mp3 players. (And by that logic, the Newton should have succeeded and the ipod should have failed). Or is the Apple core brand more about innovative, expensive work/lifestyle solutions with classy design? And Cisco is about routers and switches, right? What on earth are they doing selling IP telephones? Or is the core brand more about network enablement?

    For many people, when you say Sony, it means innovative well designed consumer electronics of high quality. For others it means the total convergence of entertainment hardware and software and content. Like camcorders, or the first Walkman (does the Sony brand have nothing to do with the ancient first Walkman?), or memory sticks, or Sony films or whatnot, and because it’s a Sony, some people will have a predisposition to buying it. Does AIBO dilute Sony’s brand? Does Sony Music?

    To limit the “core brand” to current product line is to doom a company to extinction. Especially electronics companies, whose mid/long-term survival depends on the smart leveraging of brand equity where it makes sense and to innovate like there’s no tomorrow.

    Diversification is a complex topic, and there are examples of it saving companies and killing them. But Motorola is already diversified, and has some experience with what works and what doesn’t. My guess is that the decision has a lot more to do with a specific business issue than “brand,” and since Motorola already once had a TV business, and today invests significantly in carbon nanotube technology, I wouldn’t count Moto out as a display/tv manufacturer at some point.

    Cheers,
    Paul
    (not a Motorola employee, just a fan)
    PS how do you insert line breaks?

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