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Do smartphone buyers lie about what they want?

September 5th, 2012 at 4:47 PM

In the beginning of 2012, Motorola won praise from tech pundits for launching smartphones with superior battery life. Models like DROID RAZR MAXX clearly outperformed rival phones from Apple and Samsung. Gartner polling shows that more than 50% of smartphone buyers want better battery life in their next device. Seems like Motorola has latched onto a winning theme. Except that the latest comScore data shows Motorola’s market share crashing in America, even competing against aging iPhone 4S. Motorola lost a stunning 1.3 percentage points in just three months, underperforming the ailing LG. In the company’s Wednesday major product roll-out event, Motorola once again focused on battery performance with relentless zeal. A 2,500 mAh battery! 21 hour continuous talk time! 10 hours of video streaming over LTE!

These may sound like compelling themes. Except we know that this is already the strategy pursued by Motorola, and it’s not working. The Samsung Galaxy model family, even saddled with atrocious battery performance, is beating Motorola like a drum. The design, display tech, camera performance and software of the new Motorola phones offer very little new. It looks like the company has chosen to keep battery performance as its guiding light. This may be a decision Motorola and Google will come to regret bitterly. The handset industry has known since the mid-nineties that consumers do not really know what they want until they see it in the shop. Better battery life plays well in polling, it has very rarely actually shaped purchasing decisions.

And Motorola should know this — its biggest recent hit was the RAZR, notorious for requiring a lunch hour recharge.

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