With 500K units shipped in Q3, Moto X is a success for Google and Motorola

Today  Wall Street Journal reports that according to research firm Strategy Analytics, Motorola sold 500 000 units of its flagship Moto X device.

What? With all the hype surrounding the first true Motorola’s Google smartphone, they only managed to ship 500K units in Q3? What a pathetic figure that is. Or at least that’s what a lot of tech blogs will have you believe.

When in truth, considering when, where and how Moto X launched, it is a real success for Google and Motorola.

While evaluating the success or failure of any smartphone, everyone is very  quick to compare it to the numbers of Apple’s or Samsung’s bestsellers. The XX was able to ship only YY smartphones, when Apple sold 9 million iPhones during the opening weekend. Or when Samsung sold 10 million Galaxy S4s, or 5 million Galaxy Note 3s in a month…

But do these comparisons give any useful insights about how any one smartphone or company is really doing? Certainly not.

Due to their success over the last few years, Samsung and Apple are special cases today, which exist in their own universe and are judged by very different criteria than anyone else. That’s why shipping 40 million Galaxy S4s in 5 months, or 31 million iPhones in a quarter, is a disappointing result for them. While shipping 10 or 12 million smartphones in 3 months is great news for Sony and LG.

And, that’s why 500K Moto Xs sold during the third quarter by Motorola, is a great success for Google. (If indeed they sold that much– we only have Strategy Analytics say so on this).

Moto X

Motorola only had 5 weeks to sell those half a million Xs before Sept. 30th –  the end of Q3.

Moto X started shipping on August 23d. And only on two carriers – AT&T and Verizon. It got to T-Mobile on Sept 9th, and to Sprint and U.S. Cellular on Sept. 6th. That’s only 3 weeks of sales on 1/3 of its target market. And about 1.4 million unit run rate for a full quarter.

Compare this number to the competition.

Let’s take LG’s G2. LG is on record that they expect to sell 3 million G2s before the end of the year. G2 started shipping in Korea in August, rolled out internationally in September, and was offered by 130 carriers worldwide before October began. But LG still expects to sell less than a million of them per month.

Or how about Nokia? That will be more fair comparison, since we know how many Lumias they sold in U.S. in Q3. About 1.4 million, or 460K units a month. Just about the same as Motorola did with X. But those were mostly versions of Lumia 520 available for $100-150, pre-paid. While Moto X went for $200, with a 2 year contract back then.

Or consider this.

During Q3, the big 4 U.S. carriers sold a total of 24.8 million smartphones. 10.55 of them -iPhones. And, let’s say, 1.2 million Windows Phones. Also let’s throw in something like 200K Blackberries in there too. Which leaves us with a total of 12.85 million of Android smartphones sold by big 4 in the third quarter. And means that with a quarterly run rate of ~1.4 million units, Google’s Moto X U.S. Android  marketshare would have been 10+%. For a single device launched under the new brand. With its most differentiating feature – extreme customization – available only on AT&T.

When you try to measure how Motorola is really doing today with its flagship device, try not to compare it to Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5S. Think about Moto X as a single smartphone which launched in a big, but still only one market, was on sale with 2 carriers for 5 weeks, and with another 2 for 3 weeks. Look how competitors other than Apple and Samsung have done during the same timeframe.

Suddenly that 500 000 Moto X shipped starts looking pretty good, doesn’t it?

Especially when you remember that most these other competitors have been trying to break into U.S. smartphone market for years, while Moto X is only the first true Google device to come from Motorola after acquisition.

And that Google is playing the long game here, with extremely cheap X sibling called Moto G launching worldwide tomorrow.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Ann Droid

    great article

  • ddpacino

    Great sensible article. I wish all these tech journalists seen your vision.

  • http://www.finaldeveloper.com/ Ryan Simon

    A lot of great points. It’s refreshing to see some tech journalism that doesn’t ride the easy-click hype.