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Amid “disappointing sales,” data suggests Motorola is nearly even with HTC in one respect

The Moto X may not be the hit that Google(s goog) hoped for, says Strategy Analytics. The research firm on Monday evening said via the Wall Street Journal that only 500,000 Moto X phones were sold in the third quarter. But there’s good news as well: Data from Chitika suggests that in North America, web usage on Motorola phones has caught up to that of HTC phones. If the trend continues, Motorola would be behind only Samsung when it comes to web surfing on Android smartphones.

Google hasn’t announced any sales figures for its Motorola division and frankly, I don’t expect it to. The company has never, for example, shared sales data for its Nexus handsets or tablets. So it’s not easy to determine if the 500,000 Moto X sales Strategy Analytics estimates is accurate or not. Even if it is, the Moto X isn’t the only potential smartphone money-maker for Google.

Droid Ultra

Just prior to the Moto X launch, Verizon(s vz)(s vod) introduced three Moto Droid Ultra handsets that are very similar to the Moto X. The differences are mainly in size, battery capacity and cost. All three offer the same features unique to the Moto X including touchless controls and the active display for notifications. So while the Moto X sales may disappoint, they represent only a part of the Motorola handset portfolio. There’s also no version for outside North America, although that’s expected to change tomorrow with the Moto G launch.

To be fair, I think Google and Motorola botched the Moto X launch in at least one respect: Allowing AT&T(s t) to have exclusive access to the MotoMaker program where customers could custom order their phone. As of yesterday, that exclusive is over and the Moto X is $100 less expensive, but the damage is done: The biggest sales of any phone typically take place during the launch window.

Having said that, I find Chitika’s data very interesting; partially because it looks at all of the Motorola phones, not just the X. Based on tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian ad impressions on Chitika’s Ad Network through the month of October, web surfing activity on Motorola phones is nearly even with browsing on HTC phones.

october web moto htc

Chitika’s data also says that Motorola’s total share of web browsing in the U.S. and Canada rose from 3.8 percent to 4.1 percent last month; that figure includes all of Motorola’s handsets.

I never expected Motorola to come back with a huge market share in a short time once Google got involved, so how disappointing is the situation? Not very; Google is looking at the long haul with Motorola. And it’s trying to offer highly capable handsets with innovative new features at lower prices to drive down the cost of smartphones and tablets. The cheaper they are, the more people can afford them and get online, which is exactly what Google wants to happen.

9 Responses to “Amid “disappointing sales,” data suggests Motorola is nearly even with HTC in one respect”

  1. The moto x is a fantastic phone. I looked at it, LG G2, HTC One, Galaxy S4, Verizon’s droid line, and even compared it to an Iphone. it sold me on a few things: 1) battery life, 2) comfortable build (I liked it better than the iphone even), close to Nexus experience (I hid the verizon apps and I actually find the moto apps useful), sound quality, everything. While samsung and HTC ones were the next best–I found them both too big for a phone for me. The Moto X while a decent size phones, fit much better in hand and in pocket.

  2. Glenn Gruber

    Kevin, you wrote “The cheaper they are, the more people can afford them and get online, which is exactly what Google wants to happen.”

    But hasn’t the analysis shown that those who are looking for the cheap/free phones are the ones who use them more like fancy feature phones than smartphones? The same who are less able to pay for the expensive data plans that make the magic all happen?

    So can the above statement be Google’s goal or just all they can wring out of Motorola?

    • That’s true, Glenn, there’s a cost in data plans and/or home broadband over Wi-Fi that’s part of the equation here. That’s why Google should benefit from recent moves to unbundle hardware from carrier services though; I’m curious to see if that changes things for folks buying lower-end phones.

    • Mike Cerm

      Because that’s what the carriers want, and the vast majority of phones are sold through the carriers. The carriers have limited space in the stores, and they basically tell the manufacturers, “if you want us to put your product in our stores, you have to give us the exclusive rights to sell it.” With Moto Maker, AT&T devoted a large area of each store to demonstrating all of the colorful options that were available. If AT&T hadn’t had exclusivity, then they wouldn’t have bothered with Moto Maker at all.

      Now that the exclusivity has ended, you can buy Moto Maker phones for other carriers. How many people do you think will do that, rather than just walk into their local shop and buy whatever’s there? Not many. The carriers control the retail experience, so they get to call the shots.

  3. Mike Cerm

    The Moto X and HTC One are both excellent phones. It’s astonishing to me that, despite near-universal praise from the tech press, neither of these companies can sell any phones. Is Samsung’s marketing really THAT good?