"More wood behind fewer arrows."

That's the phrase Larry Page used to describe Google's recent shut down of underperforming products. Stop flooding the market with crap, and focus on fewer, higher quality products. Now it seems Motorola has somehow gotten the exact same idea.


AllThingsD reports that Motorola "plans to release fewer new models this year, in an effort to concentrate its marketing dollars." I hope they are concentrating their design, polish, and update efforts too.

Motorola's release schedule since they jumped on the Android train has been absolutely insane. Their 2011 US product lineup looked something like this:

  • Droid 3
  • Droid Bionic
  • Droid RAZR
  • Atrix
  • Atrix 2
  • Admiral
  • Electrify
  • Droid X2
  • Photon
  • XPRT
  • Titanium
  • Triumph
  • DEFY+
  • CLIQ 2
  • Xoom
  • Xoom Family Edition
  • Droid XYBOARD 10.1
  • Droid XYBOARD 8.2

Now this list is in no way definitive, but it should give you an idea of the crazy incremental one upmanship Motorola has been betting on. Oftentimes full-on sequels of phones would come out 6 months after the originals.

This pace of releases has caused all kinds of problems. On the consumer side, it's lead to a confusing market, terrible update support, and hesitant consumers, convinced that their new phone will be obsolete in 3 months. I bet it's a headache for Motorola too, doing updates and bugfixes on 20 different builds of Android sounds daunting, to say the least.

HTC also recently committed to slowing down their release schedule, and the new phone lineup at CES is no where near the level of last year's. We'll have a clearer picture after Mobile World Congress in February, but hopefully this is a trend toward more polished and well supported products. Less phones means more resources to throw at updates and polish.

Let's hope.

Source: AllThingsD

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • http://www.anarchylive.com Javier Torres

    I really hope they do pick like 3 good phones and stick with them. A high quality one, a medium quality one and a cheap one. Then I hope others follow.

    • Tom

      Yeah, so what about if you want a keyboard? Just one high end phone, with no keyboard, or with one? That idea won't work. I think this announcement is amazingly ironic considering they just announced the Droid RAZR MAXXX which completely outdates the Droid RAZR by giving it a bigger battery 2 months after it released. Don't outdate your flagship in 2 months, then claim you're releasing less phones, idiots.

      • SiliconAddict

        This. The Droid 4 with its nifty keyboard I was all ready to jump on...until I found out the battery is not replaceable. Now I'm looking for other QWERTY phones and there are none. And for that smart ass out there about to say that there is no market for it....that is complete BS. I know at least 12 people who will not go without a keyboard. So stuff it.

        Seriously though....Thinking of going back to a dumbphone. If I can't get a keyboard on my next phone I don't want a smartphone.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

        I don't think the MAXX outdates the RAZR at all. I know quite a few people who want the thin one because it is exactly that. The battery is decent enough for moderate usage. The RAZR is big as it is, and add the extra weight and bulk from that battery and it will turn off some users. For power users, that will be awesome. So this is just two different target markets for the phone.

        I do feel, however, that it would have made more sense to launch both at the same time to give initial buyers the option. That was stupid. That will not help Motorola in the loyalty department one bit.

    • Codexx

      I think Motorola needs to pick one or two price ranges and stick to them. They're perfectly capable of making great quality phones and on paper the new RAZR and Droid 4 match the Galaxy Nexus. They have their downfalls and such, but the point is that the hardware is there and Motorola is on top of things.

      If I were them, I'd continue trying to push high-end phones. Samsung's relatively new to the high-end business but their lower end phones are garbage. And yet they are the cheapest so they dominate that slice of the market.

      I'd release 2 high-end models at the same time. Not 3 weeks apart under a different name. One with a keyboard and one without. The Droid series is actually a damn solid line of phones if you can look past the locked bootloaders and slow update schedule. They take some crap from die-hards and it's not totally unjustified, but they're good phones and they're usually relevant. But when you release one phone and then a keyboardless variant a few weeks or months apart with the same hardware one is going to be dead on arrival. Perhaps they should crate a new name (RAZR?) and use that for all their keyboardless releases and use Droid for identical choices with a keyboard. Keep up on the hardware and release them within a couple weeks of each other. Or release them as variants of the same phone, but the name might get confusing. Perhaps it's Verizon's fault, not Motorola's, for trying to space new phones out. But delaying them only makes them overpriced old phones a month or two down the road.

      The real question is, what market to aim for next? My vote goes for recycling old hardware for mid-range phones. Motorola can't presently keep costs down enough to compete with Samsung for the cheap phones market. If they could do this, it'd be fantastic. But then the question is, do they get offered a keyboard or not? Probably not, to keep costs down. So then if they go for medium-quality phones, what then? The price isn't nearly as important as a balance between cost and quality.

      It's kind of a conundrum but the best thing they can do is review their options, figure out where they can best compete, and limit themselves to a particular segment of the market.

  • J Rush

    Odd question I'm wondering: How many phones does Samsung produce a year? Average of course.

    • hyperdistortion

      Billions. But, since they more or less own South Korea, and have a much broader consumer electronics brand compared to Motorola, they can.

      Not saying that's necessarily a good thing either... in this case, IMO, Apple have the right idea: fewer products, higher quality, more focused support.

      • Jon Garrett

        apple has anything but the right idea. one-size-fits-all is totally lame. NOT everybody wants the same kind of phone.

        apple lovers say 3.5" is perfect, Android lovers say 4.3"+ is perfect. apple lovers like beautiful products, Android lovers want USB, HDMI and SD ports.

        some users like slide out keyboards, some people like me hate em'

        same is true for tablets apple has a very ugly 4:3 9.7" square Samsung on the other hand offers the Galaxy Note, Galaxy 7" 7.7" 8.9" & 10.1" because not everybody wants to carry around a full size tablet and some people think 7" is too small.

        One of the reasons I switched from iOS to Android is Choice, I wanted all those things that apple don't have.

        No manufacturer should put out 20 smart phones but 5 or 6 of them sounds about right.

  • AppleFUD

    I'll believe it when I see it.

    Apple got a lot of crap for the 4S even though they already did it once before, 3GS--though most of that was due to their own hype machine predicting a i5. Personally I thought it was a very reasonable thing to do--if you have a well designed device why kill the design instead of upgrading the innards?

    I know. . . I know, some of you need a new shinny device so everyone knows you got the latest and greatest lol

    However, I'm sure there are a lot of people, myself included, that would rather have a great design refreshed with top specs and supported well over new designs every few months.

    Though, all of this 'less is better' goes against what MOTO said yesterday about the carriers wanting more differentiated devices all over their shelves.

    • Jon Garrett

      apple can do things no other manufacturer can do--sell the same product over and over. apple users only care about what their device looks like they don't give 2 shits about specs.

      if the i5 came out with quad core 720p display, 5.1 surround sound and a 12mp Camera BUT looked like the iPhone 4 there would be critics !! but if the i5 came out with a totally new and radical design BUT with the exact specs of the iPhone 4S it would get a world of praise.

      • savedr

        sure, they can sell the same phone, except to people in the know who care more about what their phone can do, which is why we're all on Android! Lol.

        The main reason I switched from an iPhone to Android was that the 4 came out, and it wasn't a big enough difference to warrant me spending $200 on the new model. In fact, it wasn't till a year later that I considered the 4 a real smartphone, after IOS5 came out radically different with two big features from Android: multitasking and a pulldown notification bar.

      • http://www.statsprofessor.org/ StatsProfessor

        But all the iphones look the same????

        You should just say they can put a fruit logo on it and it will sell no matter what hardware it has.

    • savedr

      See, I don't really think it is! Take what happens in the market now: Droid Bionic, Droid Charge, Atrix 2. "What's the difference?" "Umm…nothing." Whereas, of Motorola committed to fewer phones, they could make them better-differentiated phones, as in fewer models, and more obvious differences between them!

      I say, let's have 2 models: Droid 4 with the keyboard, Razr without.

  • PB

    Is there anyway to edit this list to add the carriers each device went to. True enough this is too many phones but some carriers only have 1 or 2 of these phones while we all know most went to VZW.

    • Ermin Sakic

      I don´t think it matters, the USA is not the whole world, such carrier restrictions don´t really exist anywhere else yet the Motorola guys still tend to ship gazillions of different devices to the already saturated Android market. Why not simply ship the same devices to multiple carriers?

      • Deltaechoe

        US Carrier restrictions are ridiculous compared to the rest of the world. You see a lot more phone saturation outside the US where the carriers have everything

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

    Motorola should cut its lineup down to:

    1 flagship phone with physical keyboard
    1 flagship phone w/o keyboard

    Refresh the 2 phones every 9 months. Cut the lower end devices from the lineup altogether and simply discount the last generation flagship as the mid-range products 9 months when they are replaced with the newer versions.

    And, please, just call all of them with the same name, like RAZR Key, and RAZR Touch.

    • VonLaserface

      Every manufacturer should be held to this as a standard.

      • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

        I will be willing to give the OEM some leeways. If during the mid cycle, there are some breakthrough they would like to bring to the market, I can accept that they bring a variation of the current device to the market. For example, if they release a qHD device in the beginning of the year, but 2 months later, all its competitors are pushing out 720p devices, I can see why the manufacturer wants to release an interim device before the next flagship. After all, this is what makes the Android ecosystem different from the iOS one.

    • Jon Garrett

      why should they only offer $200 flagship phones? one of Android's strengths is the availability of lower cost phones.


      only tech junkies like us care about high end phones, the average everyday consumer don't know their phone's specs and don't care.

      • savedr

        Well, they'll care when they alone can't run Words with Friends like all their friends can on their brand new phone. Happened to a coworker of mine. She had an Android phone for a year that ran it, then got a brand new phone, some Samsung low-end, with specs too low. Thatlliss you off and sour you against android, especially when your neighbor just got an iPhone 4 this year for $50 that still runs everything.

  • Rodd

    Motorola was bad but Samsung was even worse..
    Didn't Samsung release about 25 different phones in 2011 ??

    • Jon Garrett

      yes, 25 different phones which made the the number 2 cell phone manufacturer in the world !! and predicted to move them to the number 1 spot in 2012.

      now why would they want to loose all that revenue and abandon a business model that has worked well for them?

      In addition

      Samsung's phones tend to be very different from each other, they dont all look and feel the same like other manufacturers. they even have their own Bada OS running on some of their devices.

      look at what Samsung has done for tablets !! brilliant !!

  • http://www.ultimamusicblog.net Jeffrey

    Awesome. Means next year I won't have to choose from 5 high end phones with different specs I want from each.

  • Timothy Roberts

    Good idea! A few good phones a year would be cool with me, my phone came onto the market seven months ago and it's already outdated as far as the market for phones goes.... It sucks!

  • JoshL

    They're doing it for marketing dollars!?!? They should be doing it for consumers. Nobody (even the non-tech savvy people) like to see a new phone from the same manufacturer less than 2 months after they just purchased theirs.

    • Jon Garrett

      while I agree with you 100% their is a reason they do this.

      you may have just got your phone 2 months ago but the new phones they release arent targeted towards you, they're targeting people whose contracts are expired and people who are 1st time buyers.

      you have to remember, everybody has a different expiration date for their contracts, in fact their are 365 different contract expiration dates for EACH carrier.

      you just got your phone 2 months ago but the next guy has had his for 22 months.

      • don

        Funny you say this because I used to wonder just how many people are due for upgrades. I got curious when android phones really started to saturate the market this past year. But anyways I had a Co worker who got a job at Verizon and she said you would be surprised how many contracts expire every single day. Not to mention how many new subscribers there are every single day. So I guess it made sense to always have something for everybody once smart phones really started to boom.

  • L boogie

    If Motorola is going to focus on fewer devices, they should stick to one carrier-specific brand like Atrix for at&t, droid/razr for verizon, photon for sprint & cliq or maybe bionic for t-mobile. And for the record, come up with better names for tablets. Use the admiral name obviously better than xyboard.

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

      Why? Why don't they just stick with one name. I mean, the carrier wants them to use some many names because they don't want the consumers to remember the manufacturer's brand. They want people to recognize the CARRIER's brand. Do you think Verizon will dump so much money into the Droid brand if it's a Moto brand? If Motorola is really serious into making it a name brand, they should concentrate on the RAZR brand from now on.

      • savedr

        If I could have gotten a Droid phone while I was still with AT&T, I would've been all over that… just like people were absolutely all over the iPhone 4 on VZW because it was identical and identically-named. I don't think there's any way people would have bough as many if it was the Apple Cyborg from VZW or something.

  • anamika

    For subsidized market like USA having fewer high end mobiles is good. I am not sure why would any one buy lower end models when basically all are contract based.

    Markets where people actually buy full priced mobiles need different models and price points. Not everyone can afford a high end mobile.

    • Don

      Yeah cheap android phones are a rip off. If you are gonna be locked in for 2 years better get the best thing possible. But I guess anyone who goes the cheap route probably is not concerned with all the frenzy. But anyways good move because there are too many good android phones to choose from.

  • http://hooplinked.com LR Tipacti

    the formula of releasing many android phones was to overwhelm and distract the market that apple had a strong hold of in business there is the Pareto principle or 80/20 rule which Motorola used quantity over quality to capture a sone what even stance between the two

  • Eddie

    About fucking time.
    They should've stopped at the Droid X.

  • Abhinav

    good would save us a lot of time on which model to settle for :D

  • kevin

    they arent any worse than HTC

  • Terry

    Why not just 1 model each year!? Seems to work out just fine for Apple!

  • chris

    IM still waiting for my formal apology for the Motorola Triumph. Gave it every chance, but after 2 months had to sell>

  • Banjo_m

    Could be my refference,
    All Paid Android market apps apk, will be free here :