The History of the RAZR: part II

The History of the RAZR: part II


We took some time after posting PART 1, but we are back again and today we want you to follow us through the challening years our beloved Motorola faced, and how it got stronger and learnt from its mistakes.

The History of the RAZR: part II

A new beginning? It seemed so. Motorola was aware of the growing popularity of smartphones, so they developed Windows Mobile and Linux phones for the mature Asian markets while Europe and the US would get RAZRs. The MotoMING, a 2006 phone, had an Intel processor, a touchscreen, and even allowed multi-tasking. The moto Q was a qwerty smartphone with Windows Mobile 6.0. But it was not enough. They needed to re-invent the Razr. 

And so they did. May 2007 saw the release of the RAZR2, one of the most advanced phones at the time. Although people didn’t care about the stuff they care today, like processor and OS, the RAZR2 had Linux and was the fastest phone around, with a 500MHz processor. It even had a voice recognition software in which you could dictate an SMS or even open some phone features by voice commands. It even had an external touchscreen in which you could access many of the phone’s features. The phone was shocking, brilliant, and bloody sexy. But the iPhone’s release and competition from others, made it sell less than expected. It did become a bestseller, but it was not enough.

Motorola started to market the phone as the it-phone of 2007. Beckham would have it, Fergie would have it, so everyone else should. During its first quarters, it sold almost the same the iPhone did, but sadly, the Motorola hate bandwagon that we often see around and the press loves to jump into it, was picked up and it became cool to say Moto was not cool anymore. And if you think about it, this has happened many times since then, and then they go and love it again. 2007 is no different from late 2007 or early 2016.

Anyway, what now? Linux brought tons of issues. To begin with, it did not support 3G, something everyone demanded. In addition, the development team at Motorola was slow at getting the 3G support on Linux ready and releasing those phones. One example is the Rokr E8. It was set to be released in the summer of 2007, at the same time the RAZR2 was going to be released, and also the PEBL2 (later called Moto U9). But the software team and a component supplier caused them to be released 6 months later and ruin the product cycle. The phone was fresh and exciting. Even if it was delayed for 6 months it won Phone of the Year at CES 2008, but they released it in June 2008, 12 months after its originally planned released.

Silence before the storm. There was nothing Motorola could do. Its supplier caused them nightmares, the RAZR was still a hit but was not seen as a cool phone anymore, and the RAZR2 couldn't even sell half of what the original was selling after four years of its release. From 2008 until Q4 2009 Moto was silent. Only a few interesting devices were released like Zine ZN5 and AURA, but they were outdated because the Linux delay and supplier issues. 2008 saw the release of less Razr’s, yet they were still selling like hot cakes. 

In fact, the Razr was the best selling mobile in the USA until November 2008, which is remarkable, given the fact that it was a 2004 phone. At least 45 million Razr’s were sold in 2007, and over 15 million in the following year. That's for the original one, while RAZR2 was either reaching end of life through the carriers or being terribly discounted. In fact, they kept releasing V3 variants until 2009 but the Razr2 series  didn't see any improved variant (except for a limited AT&T one which only brought to the US some features that were available in Europe). 

So Moto was quiet, silent, and worried about its future. The economic downturn didn't help, the other divisions under Motorola were being affected, costs were being cut (lay-offs) and investors gave Greg Brown some awful nightmares. He's even confessed through some interviews that there were days/weeks he could not sleep. But remember, Motorola never dies: it has more lives than a cat and has had more comebacks than Jesus. The storm was about to come and Moto was going to take its crown back.

How so? We'll find out in part III.


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