Phones

Motorola returns with new phones, smartwatch

The Moto X Force (left), which has a shatterproof screen, and the Moto 360 Sport smartwatch (above) are among Motorola's new models being released in Singapore.
The Moto X Force (above), which has a shatterproof screen, and the Moto 360 Sport smartwatch are among Motorola's new models being released in Singapore.PHOTOS: MOTOROLA
The Moto X Force (left), which has a shatterproof screen, and the Moto 360 Sport smartwatch (above) are among Motorola's new models being released in Singapore.
The Moto X Force, which has a shatterproof screen, and the Moto 360 Sport smartwatch (above) are among Motorola's new models being released in Singapore.PHOTOS: MOTOROLA

The handset maker makes comeback with new models, each having unique selling point

Motorola is officially back in Singapore. And, according to analysts here, it has an opportunity to do well, as many of its phones - such as the shatterproof Moto X Force and the mid-range Moto G4 Plus - target a niche market.

"Consumers like options, so with another brand to select from, as well as different models for different needs, there is an opportunity for carving out a niche," said Mr Clement Teo, principal analyst at market research firm Ovum.

He added that Singapore is a good test bed for a number of brands seeking to launch in the region, and it will provide an indication of demand for the models as Motorola expands to South-east Asia.

The iconic handset maker, perhaps best known for the Razr flip phone which it launched in 2004, has been officially away from Singapore for eight years.

Last week, it announced its comeback here with a line-up of five phones and one smartwatch.

Over the past few years, Motorola has had a turbulent time, with ownership of the company changing hands twice.

In 2011, Motorola split into Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility, with its mobile-phone business falling under the latter.

In 2012, Motorola Mobility was acquired by Google and, in 2014, it was sold to Chinese company Lenovo for US$2.91 billion (about S$4 billion).

Mr Sridhar Ramaswamy, director of marketing in Asia-Pacific for Lenovo, said that Motorola's exit from Singapore eight years ago was not specific to conditions here.

"It wasn't the market, it was the company. Motorola had gone through a number of issues worldwide in its previous iteration, and it had to trim down to save cost," he said. "So it wasn't market-specific, as it exited most markets."

Motorola remains in only one or two markets in Asia, and in parts of Western Europe, he added.

However, after Lenovo acquired Motorola in 2014, the Chinese company looked to relaunch the brand.

Mr Ramaswamy said that Motorola has returned now as "Singapore is a very discerning market".

He explained: "There are lots of choices, and you can't just come to the market and expect that suddenly people will give you business, so we needed time to set up retail infrastructure, the service infrastructure and the brand."

Motorola devices are available at four Lenovo retail stores in Bugis Junction, Causeway Point, Sim Lim Square and Marina Square.

The company is also in talks with telcos to sell the phones through them, although it will probably be several more months before they are available with mobile plans.

The six devices released here range from $399 to $899, and most of them come with a unique selling point.

For example, the Moto X Force has a shatterproof screen, while one variant of the Moto X Style has a bamboo backing.

Mr Ramaswamy said: "The overall value proposition for Motorola is very different from that of other brands. Motorola is not about specs, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that we have this much DPI, and this much RAM. The specs are there, but it's more about the experience."

While some of the phones being put into the market here may not be the newest - the X Style and the X Play were released in September last year - Mr Ramaswamy said that they want to build a portfolio and an awareness of the brand.

In future, Singapore will be among the first countries in the world to receive new Motorola devices, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'Motorola returns with new phones, smartwatch'. Print Edition | Subscribe