Triangulating Why the Motorola Q is a Disappointment

After many months of sneak peeks, increasing impatience, and mind-numbing hype, the Motorola Q has finally been released to the public.

Initial reactions have ranged from overly generous (PC Magazine), fanboys of the idea far too early before the release and it is obvious (CNet) to cautiously optimistic(PC World). Those few with their hands on the prize have been overwhelmed with public curiosity and the official marketing campaign for Motorola and Verizon is only now just beginning.

The Motorola/Verizon gang (Verizon has first dibs at selling the phone, we guess it will be 3-6 months before other carriers get it) has created the perfect storm in the perfect order: an early announcement with some teaser photos and promises, a noticeable buzz in the tech community, anticipation and desire, a very competitive price point, a sexy design — they have created a conveyor belt that implants this thing into your brain as the perfect phone and then practically delivers it directly to your hand.

So how could this phone end up being a disappointment? In a word: reality.

Before I jump into my theory as to why I’d like to preface it by saying that I don’t think the phone is going to be a flop. As a matter of fact, I think it could do quite well. If you combine the irrational exuberance over the idea of smartphones like the Treo 650 with the sometimes spectacular industrial design of Motorola phones, and you have an Apple-like reality distortion field that can often last for longer than the life of the product itself.

So here is what I think the problem is: this device looks like a serious productivity machine and another step forward towards the best convergence phone on the market, and we all want very badly for that to be the case, but instead it’s a step sideways and backward.

The perfect productivity device would have the speed, efficiency, multi-tasking ability, and interactivity of a Palm phone, the scroll wheel of a blackberry, a thin form factor, and would be chock full of features power users want: unrestricted Bluetooth, wifi, and tons of applications. Well, it kinda/sorta is pointing in the right direction.

Where it succeeds:

  • form factor
  • industrial design
  • call quality (it is a phone, after all)
  • scroll wheel

Where it fails:

  • Windows OS cumbersome, music skips when multitasking
  • no touchscreen means less efficient navigation
  • no software for editing office documents
  • no wifi
  • expensive data plans (Verizon’s fault for now)

Bottom line:
The bottom line is that there is a chasm between consumer and pro phones that does NOT want to be bridged by a phone that half does what each user group wants. Consumers still don’t want to pay the high price and the pros are going to be let down by what is missing. To me, this phone really wants to be more than it currently is – right now it’s a large phone with a keyboard, not a small PDA/smartphone with all the fixin’s. Here’s to hoping for “Rev 2”.

Aug 30 update: Gizmodo reports on a firmware update for the device. They do not attempt to hide their feelings of being underwhelmed.

3 Thoughts to “Triangulating Why the Motorola Q is a Disappointment”

  1. I have been shopping for a new high-end phone for about 18 months. The Motorola Q comes VERY close to meeting my requirments, but I also want to check out:

    — HP 6915 (gotta love the GPS)
    — SideKick III (may be a sleeper of the new wave)
    — Palm Treo 700p (close to perfection)

    The Treo keyboard is crowded for my taste. But I may still land there.

  2. Hey Ron, I can certainly agree that it is a step in the right direction for Motorola and I wish I could see this from a more positive prospective; I’ve tried looking at this move from the perspective of Motorola the company, and Motorola’s customers and the more I try to rationalize for them, the more disappointed I am. Consider this:

    I don’t believe that Motorola is doing this for their professional consumers because they didn’t price this inline with what the market is clearly willing to pay for a fully-realized smartphone. (And of course the feature list as above)

    Motorola could be considered to be doing this for its consumer line as it seems almost everyone is text messaging and more and more want to email on their phones. But instead of this being “Motorola delivering for it’s customers” it’s again slightling it’s pro consumer base by saying “if you want all the features you’ll still have to pay more and buy someone else’s phone, but your’s won’t be as sexy and easy to cary as this one” AND to make matters worse (to play conspiracy theorist for a moment) it could be construed as attempt to pull up the accepted base price of phones in the consumer realm (as if the consumer sector isn’t already buying phones too often, for too much, and are getting abused on contracts, bad service, and fees everywhere they turn).

  3. hey man, found you from the palm yahoo stock msg board, i’m waaaay long on august 25 calls, down like $2700. but my real point is love your pic at the top, i’m also on a lombard. every year i use it is a nother 2 grand saved to throw in the market. i have an xplore m98 palm os phone. not so great. i can’t believe you are looking anywhere other than the treo700p, what are you, not palmbrainwashed? well good graphic and nice bash of the Q.

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