Moto X may transform Motorola into Google X type advanced project lab, with very strong product focus
Moto X phone is real and is coming this fall.
Motorola certainly took its time to produce the first smartphone after it was bought by Google. The acquisition deal closed a year ago, and its now been almost 9 months since Motorola released any new device to the market. In the meantime, it more or less eliminated their presence, including an important R&D division, in China, closed down sales offices in most parts of the world, and practically exited the feature phone business.
But now the transition is almost over, and new Motorola management team from Google is almost ready to show us the first results. And they are really ambitious.
During an interview at D11 conference, Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside confirmed that they will launch Moto X hero device this fall, with more to come later this year.
According to CEO, with Moto X, Motorola is not trying to follow the specs game other smartphone vendors play. He says that the main focus is to rethink the use of various available sensors, to make the device more context aware. E.g. – Moto X will know when you take it out of the pocket and will turn itself on. When you want to use a camera, presumably orienting the device to take pictures, the camera app will launch automatically. When you are in the car and travelling at 60 mph, Moto X will switch into car mode and behave differently than when you just walk.
Moto X engineers also paid a lot of attention to battery life, and effective power management of phone CPU and active sensors. Hopefully, they’ve got some good results from their efforts, and we’ll see a device that will easily go through a day or two of active use.
From previous remarks of Google CEO Larry Page, it seems that Motorola is very concerned with the phone durability. Presumably that will produce at least IP57 certified water and dust proof smartphone.
Some earlier rumors mentioned sapphire glass for Moto X. But that will not happen. According to Dennis Woodside, Motorola’s hero smartphone will be manufactured in Texas, in the old Nokia factory, with OLED displays supplied by Korean company, probably Samsung.
Motorola CEO also says that Moto X will be widely distributed. I’m not sure how will they achieve that after shuttering almost all of Motorola’s worldwide sales organization. We’ll just have to wait and see. But from the CEO tone it sounds that there won’t be any carrier exclusives at least.
That’s about all what we know today about the first Moto X. But Motorola does not stop there and is thinking much more ambitiously about the next generations of Moto X devices.
According to DARPA alumni, current Motorola SVP of Advanced Technologies Group, Dr. Regina Dugan, they are drastically reorganizing the whole process of making a smartphone, by applying techniques for radical innovation she learned at DARPA to mobile industry. A key point – is reducing red tape between research part and development of marketable products. And taking big risks for expected big rewards. According to Dr. Dugan:
“We take very inspired, technically competent program leads and intersect big science with driving application. With big science and big application you have a really bold initiatives. It’s kinda counter-intuitive to many people, because they think that with the increased risks that comes with that, you actually yield results less often. But that’s not my experience. When you take on bold vision like that, what happens is you yield results more often”
One field Motorola’s Advanced Tech Group is looking into – is authentication. And they’ve come up with “vitamin authentication” approach, a pill with a chip, a switch and potato battery – that you swallow, and which is powered by the acids in your stomach. It creates an 18 bit ECG like signal throughout your whole body, which the sensors in your smartphone can read and know it is you.
Then Dr. Dugan showed an electronic tattoo on her arm, that, presumably, communicates with her smartphone, and does some cool things, including proving to the phone that you is you. Motorola is not the only company working on such tattoos, Nokia already has a patent application pending for a similar thing.
But those things from Motorola’s ATG is probably at least several years away. For now, if a big part of features described above, even without the advanced far out stuff, gets into a Motorola flagship this year, I’ll be very happy with Moto X.
All in all, after today’s interviews, it is becoming a bit more clear why Larry splurged 12 billion dollars on Motorola. He is transforming it into a bigger Google X type advanced project lab, with much better ability to turn far out projects into marketable products.