My first cell phone was a Sanyo. But only because I couldn’t afford a Motorola. I wanted a StarTAC. All the cool kids had a StarTAC. My Sanyo said loud and clear I was not a cool kid. Sometime later, I spent around $650 to be one of the first people to get the RAZR. People didn’t stand in line back then, but I purchased it at the store the first day it was available. I was finally a cool kid.
I stuck with Motorola through the Droid years. I loved my Droid X, X2 and still think the RAZR M is one of the nicest-feeling phones ever made.
But now the cool kids have iPhones and Galaxys.
Motorola’s days are numbered. Earlier today Lenovo announced another round of layoffs, leaving just several hundred people working at Motorola — 3,500 people worked at Motorola when Lenovo bought the division from Google in 2014 and 20,000 worked there when Google bought the company in 2012.
Motorola was an American icon founded in 1928. It was the United States’ Sony and Philips. It was the pride of Chicago. Like other early mobile icons, BlackBerry and Nokia, the company failed to innovate quickly enough and fell behind Apple and Samsung. Eventually Google bought part of the company. It wasn’t a good fit, so a Chinese giant bought the brand and engineers off Google in 2014.
At the time there were soft cries about a Chinese firm buying a historic American brand. But this was Lenovo, which years earlier purchased another iconic American brand, IBM’s laptop division, and managed to become the world’s largest PC vendor. If anyone could turn around Motorola, it could be Lenovo, most hoped.
That hasn’t happened. Motorola’s market share has dwindled to a tiny percentage, though it continues to produce stellar devices.
The Motorola of today is not the Motorola that made the cell phone or m68k or even the RAZR. That Motorola is gone, and all that’s left is a shell and empty cubicles in its Chicago headquarters.