When I was at Lenovo's Tech World event yesterday, during a press briefing someone asked what Moto Z meant for Moto X. I heard the answer, but I wasn't entirely clear on exactly what was said and hadn't recorded it (my mistake), so I reached out to Motorola via email last night to ask them to comment on the whole X to Z transition. It turns out that there isn't a transition, so much as just a new member of the family: Moto Z is not replacing Moto X, at least not at this time. Motorola's statement follows.
Moto X is alive and well. In fact, Moto X Force recently launched in multiple new markets around the world. Moto X and Moto Z do share some great qualities, but they ultimately provide different experiences and make our portfolio more robust for consumers looking for the perfect smartphone to fit their needs. Tech-hungry consumers who are looking to get a brand new set of experiences from their smartphone will turn to Moto Z and Moto Mods.
Now, I know there's some PR-speak to cut through there, so let's analyze. There's clearly recognition that Moto X and Z are going to have some marketplace overlap, and that does worry me a bit here in regard to Moto X's future. In markets where Motorola can push the Z brand heavily, it seems almost inevitable to me that Motorola won't have much incentive to push new X devices as real "flagships" going forward. Z is obviously designed to increase handset profitability via its Motomods, while Moto X has more recently sought to push on value for money to consumers, a la a sort of high-end Moto G. The Moto X Style, known as the Pure Edition here in the US, launched at an MSRP of just $399.
But, that does leave open the possibility that X will just continue on as the high-end-of-the-mid-range device making that unlocked value proposition, while the Z line will be the no-holds-barred technical showcase for what Lenovo and Motorola can really do, with the X just being a good smartphone that doesn't cost an insane amount of money. And that sounds just like where Moto X probably should be. Of course, Motorola's statement doesn't preclude the possibility of X being wound down eventually, or exiting certain markets where the company doesn't think offering both the X and Z lineups makes sense - Moto obviously isn't keen on outing its future global handset strategy.
If X does live on in a meaningful way, that probably also means that it won't be receiving quite the love and attention it had as Motorola's banner product, the object of desire it trotted out to fans for the past several years. The Moto X is now the lesser to the Moto Z. But maybe that's OK.