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Lenovo Plans to Keep Moto Brand, Continue Moto E and Moto G Lines

The company will use Moto at the high end and Lenovo's Vibe brand for entry-level devices.

Asa Mathat

Lenovo wants to have its Motorola and eat it too.

The Chinese company, which acquired the iconic tech brand last year, has been looking to find a way to harness some of the brand’s power while also reinforcing the Lenovo name.

The Motorola name is not going away, but it will become increasingly rare to see it on consumer products. Instead, the company plans to focus on the Moto brand and “bat wing” logo versus the full Motorola name, though Motorola will continue to operate as a Lenovo subsidiary that designs and manufactures phones.

The one area where the full Motorola name could appear is on future Verizon Droid-branded phones, which have historically been sold as Droid by Motorola. The company said it is in talks with Verizon on how future Droid phones will be labeled.


As for its product line, Motorola President Rick Osterloh told reporters at the Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona that the company will continue to make its well-regarded and fast-selling Moto G and Moto E lines of modestly priced smartphones.

“That’s basically no change from what we were doing at Google,” Osterloh said. The company will start using Lenovo along with the Moto name in its marketing.

In general, the Lenovo Vibe line will be used for entry-level devices and the Moto more at the high end. In the past, Lenovo had introduced high-end features such as projectors to the Vibe line, but Osterloh said the goal going forward will be to have most of the new features come first to Moto products.

While the Moto E is also an entry-level smartphone, Osterloh said he is comfortable with continuing to use the Moto branding.

“Gap and Banana Republic have overlapping price points too,” Osterloh said.

Getting a larger share of the high-end market, which is the goal for the Moto brand, is a tall order given the already brutal competition among Apple, Samsung, LG and others.


Osterloh said there are no current plans to bring the Lenovo Vibe line to the United States.

“We’re always considering it,” he said. “The price points in the United States are finding new lows. The lower-priced phones are getting better and better and better.”

Osterloh said that the Moto and Vibe brands will keep their existing identities. Under the hood, though, Osterloh said that the company wants to move to more common software and testing practices.

“We’ll try to do as much technology sharing as possible,” Osterloh said.

Meanwhile, the company doesn’t plan to do a follow-up to its Hint, which combined smart assistant features with a traditional Bluetooth headset. While Sony and others are introducing similar products at this year’s Mobile World Congress, Osterloh said that the Bluetooth headset market is shrinking as more cars focus on their own Bluetooth connections to cellphones.

“We thought the Hint was an awesome product, but the market has declined to such an extent it is hard to make it a huge success,” he said.

As for virtual reality, Lenovo’s work is mostly being done outside of Motorola, though the mobile unit is working with Google on its Project Tango augmented reality effort.

On the business end, Lenovo was able to reach its goal of having a combined mobile business that is profitable, but has seen its market share decline amid weakness in Lenovo’s China business. Osterloh said that the company had been heavily dependent on carriers to sell products there and was hurt as selling patterns changed.

“If you excluded China, our unit numbers would look like they are growing,” he said, adding that a key part of the mobile phone strategy for 2016 and 2017 is to reinvigorate the company’s business in China.

He also pointed to large share gains Lenovo is seeing in markets such as India, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Russia. “This is where I think you can see the real power of the integration.”

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