Defensive Strategy

Attack of the Droid

26 Oct 2009  

There are some brands that seem untouchable.  They are so revered it is difficult to say a bad thing about them.  This list includes Virgin, Nike, Barack Obama, Bono and, perhaps most of all, Apple.

How can you say something bad about Apple?  This is the company that brought us the iPod and the iPhone and the brilliant Apple-Microsoft ads.

So when someone shows up and starts throwing stones at Apple it is a noticeable event.  And that is precisely what Motorola is doing with the new teaser spot for Droid.

You can see the spot here:


Motorola directly attacks the iPhone; the spot highlights all the limitations of the iPhone and concludes “Everything iDon’t, Droid does.”

In tonality, Droid is the opposite of the iPhone.  iPhone is happy and friendly and sociable.  Droid is dark and a little scary.

If Apple is Nike, then Droid is Under Armour.

This is a smart strategy for Motorola.  Attacking Apple is a difficult proposition.  Pushing the edge only makes sense; Motorola needs to differentiate on a product basis and in attitude.

It is not certain this all will work.  The product has to deliver and Motorola has to spend enough to break through.  The marketing pitch will need to evolve into a campaign with a single, motivating benefit; now it is just a somewhat confusing teaser spot.

The results are not in but Motorola seems to be on the right track.

7 Responses

  1. Paul G says:

    Typing this note from my droid. Posters are correct that Moto had little to do with the marketing of the phone and I do agree with Verizons strategy to differentiate the phone by articulating the benefits that the droid offers. However, let’s look a little deeper as there are bigger differences between the offerings. The droid runs googles free android operating system. The key is free. Google wants this OS on every one of the billion phones in use around the globe. This will drive traffic to its paid search web page where all the money is made.

    At last count, Motorola will shipping about 1M droids this holiday season. A good start but about 9M short of the iPhone. However, the droid is a strong competitor and a viable alternativwe

  2. Katy Nims says:

    Having recently shopped for a new phone myself (as a reformed geek) and helped another non-techie shop for her first smartphone, I find this marketing both intriguing and interesting.

    Yes, the Verizon ad is a bit geeky (funny, I never thought about how hard it was to understand — just that it was a great “teaser”) but the key factor I’m seeing is that the Droid phone is trying to do what Palm and Microsoft have done, which is to provide a platform across multiple providers (Verizon, Cellular South, TMobile, Sprint, etc.) instead of “having” to go with AT&T to be able to have these new capabilities.

    And, to answer the question of who would buy — my non-techie friend just could not believe that the cameras on cellphones don’t usually have a flash and the 5MP resolution is important to her. So yes, I’ve recommended she wait and see the new Droid phones when they come out for her first “smart phone” since her current provider will sell it and she won’t have to go through the hassle of switching providers, etc.

  3. Tim Calkins says:

    Some great points.

    I fully agree with John’s point that Motorola and Verizon will have to own a benefit; that will be the key challenge as the product rolls out. It is really the key positioning question: who is this device for and what is the primary benefit?

    David S asks an interesting question about short term versus long term strategy. My sense is that attacking Apple on features such as no keyboard is a short term game; Apple can just add a keyboard, negating the positioning entirely. Long term the strategy needs to evolve into a bigger idea.

    Still, as a first step I think directly attacking iPhone is a promising way to start.

  4. David S. says:

    Interesting comments … At least we can see people are pretty passionate about their phone! I thing Diego you should not generalize yourself as “the customers”. There are different segments of customers. You represent one of them probably. Maybe a large one. But that doesn’t mean there are no others and those are not big enough for Motorola/Verizon to make good money out of it (btw, and I guess this is what John is trying to say, the “pasty-white-skinned programmers” may not be that numerous but willing to pay extra to Verizon for special data services/features etc… Just a thought. It is not about market share, it is about profit).

    I am wondering (And Pr. Calkins may have some thoughts about that) how far this is a short-term or a long-term strategy. The iPhone is getting a pretty big share of mind and rather than a “killing” product this may be the first stone at building an alternative thinking to iEverything. iPod and iPhone are becoming common name (I believe) faster than any other product before and they were not the first on the market! Pretty scary for competition. That kind of mean a smart phone must have the features of an iPhone (+ something else if you want to sell it). So breaking the “there is the iSomething and there are the others” mindset may be a survival requirement for competition on the long-term. Look at how Google killed everyone on web search… Even if you believe the iPhone is the best product on the market (especially if you believe it actually), a me-too strategy is very dangerous (original is always better and you can only compete on price then). I guess Verizon/Motorola got that …

  5. Chitown says:

    Note this is not a Motorola ad. This is Verizon. Motorola has not developed a position here at all. Please be clear on this. The creative was done by Verizon, Verizon planned and bought the media schedule. Motorola developed the phone – even the name was created by Verizon not Motorola! All verifiable – Tim we need the real deal from Kellogg on facts!

    Same for Cliq at TMO – Cliq is TMO’s own name as are their ads. Motorola is not doing any “above the line” work! Thats why Motorola is call it the DEXT in other countries (Bing or Google it to see I am 100% correct).

  6. John I says:

    I love the differentiated approach, but the spot definitely seems to position the phone for a small segment of the population: people who know what running simultaneous applications means, what widgets are, what open development is… And people who love sci-fi-style voice synthesis. Does that bring us down to pasty-white-skinned programmers who live in their parents basements? At least paying rent doesn’t affect their disposable income! 🙂

    I have an iPhone and it would be great to have a real keyboard, to have a flash on the camera, and to load my mail when I’m viewing my calendar (i.e., the “benefit” of simultaneous apps without knowing what that means). But in typical Motorola fashion, it’s all about the engineering & little about the consumer benefits. Motorola’s technologies may drive the market again for a time, but as their engineering advances mature, Motorola will be watching their latest Quasar-TV–PowerPC-chip–Bravo-pager–MicroTAC-phone–Razr-camera-phone brand dwindle in market share…

    I hope my jaded view of them is wrong this time, but I’m not buying stock.

  7. Diego Henao says:

    I believe that motorola is trying to do something but…. as a consumer and user we don’t mind if the iphone:
    – Does not has a real keyboard but in reality it HAS
    – We don’t care if it does not take 5mega pixel pictures and pictures in the dark: because we are not professional photografers… the pictures that deliveres the new iphone works perfectly even when you used them for presentations…
    – Open development: We are regular users no programerssss so we don’t understand this so we don’t care
    – No interchanbeable batteries AGAIN this in not the reason why we got an iphone
    AT THE END WE (consumers) got and iphone because is DIFFERENT, is fun, IT WORKS better thar other devices AND IT IS MUCH BETTER WE YOU ARE SURFING THE WEB.

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