At the beginning of last year, it emerged that Lenovo was planning to phase out the Motorola brand in favour of a “Moto by Lenovo” denomination. Twelve months later, the company seems to have had a change of heart (along with a change in leadership).
According to CNET, Chairman and President of Motorola Mobility (the consumer oriented spin-off of former Google-owned Motorola, set up in 2011), Aymar de Lencquesaing points out to 2016 as the year in which the company “finished transforming” itself. The newly found focus allowed it to come to market with the Moto Z, and its accompanying accessories dubbed Moto Mods.
De Lencquesaing states that the shift back to the widely recognized older branding will eventually roll out everywhere, but timing would depend on the region. He specifically mentions Brazil as one of Motorola's stronger markets, whereas Russia is cited as the opposite. The parent company, Lenovo, even plans to reintroduce the Motorola name in its native China, ditching the ZUK branding that’s currently available.
While the Moto Z had sold over 1 million units worldwide as of October last year, there is also the small matter of the Moto 360, one of the first Android Wear smartwatches. News on that front is not so great, as in an interview with German publication It Zoom de Lencquesaing revealed:
We decided not to release a new version, because honestly, the demand is not so strong and the usage scenarios are not so clear. The market is likely to get a second breath when the industry finds out how to link watches to mobile networks. As long as they are tied to the smartphone, there is also a market for it - but it is a narrow market.
Jan Huckfeldt, former Procter & Gamble executive who joined Motorola Mobility in May 2016 as Chief Marketing Officer, notes that it was “foolish to throw it [the Motorola name] overboard”. His eventual intent is to make Motorola a premium name once more. As far as an actual time line is concerned, Huckfeldt said “Give us 12 months, and everyone in the US will know the new Motorola”.
Despite the brand recognition, there’s no doubt Lenovo will have some difficulty reintroducing consumers to the Motorola name. Until that is all said and done, the king is dead, long live the king.