Motorola can have its cake and eat it too

15 May 2014

Motorola’s Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Operations, Mark Randall, made some interesting comments about the upcoming Moto 360 smartwatch in an interview with TrustedReviews regarding design and the potential price-tag.

The obvious take-away from the discussion was that the high-ranking company representative thinks all current smartwatches are “pretty crappy”, after which he alluded to how the visual appeal of the Moto 360 will be a major selling point. This is a view we whole-heartedly agree with, but it's not the most interesting thing we gleaned from the conversation.

More intriguing were his reflections on pricing. “We don’t feel that because we have launched the Moto G or Moto E we have to price the 360 at a different price point”. It seems that while Motorola has been storming its way back in to the smartphone market using attractive pricing, it feels no such compunction when it comes to wearable tech – an uncharted domain that is currently conspicuous for its lack of titans.

Now is not the time for cheap smartwatches

Motorola has been making its big comeback through lower price-points. First the flagship Moto X took on the big-leagues with very Nexus-esque value, then the wildly popular Moto G redefined the mid-range market with its lowly ransom of US$179. More recently, Motorola has announced an attractive 4G+MicroSD upgrade to the Moto G, as well as a new and cheapest-yet handset called the Moto E.

The news that the Moto 360 will not have one of these “different price point[s]” may then come as a surprise, but perhaps it shouldn’t. The first clue is obvious: just look at it. The Moto 360 is by far the most attractive smartwatch design we’ve seen to date. This is not a nuts-and-bolts device like the Moto X and G. This is fashion.

The second becomes apparent when you look at the market. The wearable industry isn’t developed enough to demand an affordable alternative just yet. First manufacturers need something that we’ll actually wear, then they can start worrying about competitive pricing. Handily, either by chance or by ingenious design, Motorola is now in a position to provide both.

Best of both worlds

Thanks to its ultra-affordable and incredibly usable smartphones, Motorola has sort of slipped a discounted smartwatch experience in through the back door without actually sacrificing income. The Moto 360 can cost as much as a Galaxy Gear, LG G Watch, or any other watch on the market. That’s fine, because that $300 you saved on your Moto G would look great as a stylish smartwatch on your wrist. It's essentially two great gadgets for the price of one.

Alternatively, if you don’t own a Motorola phone then it still doesn’t matter. If the Moto 360 is even half the smartwatch we hope it will be then it’s going to be a head-runner. You’ll still want one and Motorola will still pull in that sweet premium cash. It’s got the fiscal, mid-range and the fashionable, premium buyers covered at the same time. It's an interesting place to see a manufacturer and it could be Motorla's ticket to becoming the first of the smartwatch giants.



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