Last week, Motorola announced its plans in regard to devices it would be upgrading to Android Marshmallow. Missing from that list were the 2013 Moto X, the 2014 Moto X on AT&T and Verizon, and both the 2014 and 2015 Moto E. Users were understandably upset by the latter two models, which in the case of the Moto E 2015 resulted in a phone that had barely 7 months of software support - despite Motorola marketing it on the promise of not leaving customers "behind."
This is unacceptable. The Moto X 2014 on AT&T and Verizon perhaps even more so given those phones have barely been available a year now and are already seeing software support dropped - and Motorola's got 20 pages of complaints supporting that view. The 2015 Moto E just happened to be so blatant, so egregious that it came as a slight shock to all of us. Motorola has spent the last two years attempting to build a new image - one of providing customers with no bloat and proper software support in a no-frills, transparent way. Suddenly, it seems like they just don't care as much as they used to. Could it be a result of the Lenovo acquisition and subsequent job cuts? It certainly could. But we're not here to talk about that today. What we are here to talk about is what you're doing to your image in the eyes of your customers. Let's take a few, select quotes from Motorola forum members and see what they think of that policy.
I will not be buying a Moto X PE. Avid supported of Moto but it ends with the 2014 Moto X and 1st Gen Moto 360. Can you believe Huawei will be getting my money? I can't believe it either. -BootlegZani
What's the matter with Moto? Used to be so awesome, but this year, just striking out all over the place. First the crappy camera in the new Moto X then a pretty lackluster upgrade for the Moto 360 and now this? I expect this of LG or Samsung, but as it stands they are going to be doing better then you guys with a lot bigger marketshare. -Ramshambo2001
Yeah, I hate to say it, but I was just about to upgrade to new Moto X. If the 2014 model isn't getting updates at a year old, I will purchase a Nexus instead. Bought a lot of phones from Moto, but I'm not going to chance it after this. -deffensp
What a shortsighted move on the 2014 Moto X carrier versions. I'll have to move on to Nexus or Apple. Never thought I'd even consider Apple, but they stay up-to-date and have Advanced Calling on Verizon, which I'm sure will also never come to the 2014 X despite promises. Very disappointing. -smelkus
You cannot be serious. I bought this phone less than a year ago and you're already dropping software support for it? You have absolutely lost a customer with this one. This is completely unacceptable to drop software support for a device this soon after it's release. -ajoy39
This is incredible. My phone is less than a year old and Motorola and Verizon are going to stop supporting it. This is incredibly disrespectful to all Moto X (carrier versions apparently) owners. You guys have officially lost all of my business. Thanks for making my next phone purchase choice that much easier. -isc277
I will be telling everyone I know to stay far away from Motorola and Lenovo products. -bmarkarian
Goodbye Motorola and goodbye android. The whole state of the android update ecosystem is completely broken. -kkozma
As much as I like the Moto X, and had intended to look for a Motorola replacement when the time comes, Motorola has just given me an excellent reason to look at other brands. -RU12
Verizon user here. Good bye, Motorola. It's been nice knowing you since I bought that MicroTac back in 1995 and have used your phones exclusively since then. -JohhnnyLaRue
I'm sorry, I've been a happy supporter of this phone line, and by extension Motorola, but I think I just bought my last Moto. I guess the joke's on me for buying it. -jtflynnz
As happy as I was with Motorola in the past it is time to find a vendor that will really support the products it sells. -FAMontgomery
As with others, my last four phones have been Motorola -- no more. -newt8
Do you hear that, Motorola? These are real customers. Loyal, grass-roots, enthusiast customers leaving your brand behind. The people who vouch for you to friends and relatives. Consumers who placed trust in your assurances and track record of device updates and support above and beyond the meager level some other brands provided. And now you want to alienate these people for the sake of the bottom line? You're throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as tired a phrase as that is.
Today, I am attempting to speak to Motorola directly. (Sadly, Motorola has no real interest in speaking with us!) For the sake of your customers, your brand, and the community you've cultivated through a more transparent and open approach to smartphones and software updates, it's time to make a promise. A promise to support the devices you build - a meaningful one.
Perhaps such a promise could even make business sense (after all, you certainly aren't gaining customers by dropping software support on devices), and that's what I'm proposing today. Let's call it Moto Update Promise - a simple way for consumers to understand how long their device will be supported with major Android OS updates.
The structure of such a program could be quite straightforward, based loosely on the MSRP of each device sold. Moto Update Bronze would provide 12 months of promised software updates for budget phones such as Moto E. Moto Silver would provide 18 months for mid-range phones like Moto G and Moto X Play. Moto Gold would be a full 24 months (2 years) for premium devices like the Moto X Style. Now, let's get into the details.
What would "support" mean? From launch day in the first market a device is available in, you promise to provide all Android OS updates released within the given time period (be it 12, 18, or 24 months). An OS would count as "released" on the day which its SDK becomes publicly available. Additionally, you'd promise to give a device the maintenance releases for a given OS version. For example, if a phone received Android 5.0, it should also receive 5.0.1, 5.1, and 5.1.1 (you can skip when it makes sense, but the last released version should be provided), even if those patches are released outside the update "promise" window. These maintenance releases often contain bug fixes and performance optimizations that can significantly improve the end user experience.
Let's say the 2015 Moto E was a Moto Update Bronze device. That would entitle it to 12 months of update support from its release date in February 2015. That would essentially guarantee it at least a single major Android OS update. In this case, it would be Marshmallow, an update the 2015 E is not receiving. It would also receive all updates to Marshmallow (or at the least, major maintenance releases), even ones released beyond February 2016. If there was a Marshmallow 6.1, it would get that update. If there was a 6.1.2 released in May next year as the final MM build - outside the major support window - it would get that as well. And as to arguments that "people don't keep these phones that long?" Of course they do. They may not always be the original owners, but someone is definitely going to be using that Moto E a year from now, and possibly even beyond that.
Silver and Gold devices, obviously, would get support for longer periods of time as discussed above, but in the same manner. Setting up these tiers would be simple enough, it's not as though Motorola has a Samsung-grade portfolio of models to support. You give Moto E bronze, G and X Play silver, and the flagship Moto X Style gold. And do these have to be the exact number of months you promise? I guess not - they seem reasonable to me - but even having a system like this in the first place would be so much better than letting people know out of the blue that the phone they bought is getting tossed to the roadside a la Moto X 2014 on AT&T and Verizon.
If you legitimately, technically can't deliver an update for a certain device? Well, let me put it this way: this shouldn't happen to begin with. But, if the situation arises, here's what you do. Send owners of that device a refurbished phone model that will get the update they won't in exchange for a $50-100 payment that will be refunded upon receipt of their old device. Will this make everyone happy? No! But it will get you a hell of a lot of internet goodwill if you do ever have to resort to it, because almost god damn anything is better than leaving your customers without an update they expected. (Something I suspect Motorola's various support channels are getting a crash-course on right now.)
So, Motorola, what do you say: can you be the darling of smartphone enthusiasts on the internet again? Because after last week, I think everybody's having second thoughts about you.