If you’re ever in the mood to think about a “how the mighty have fallen” story, you need to look no further than Motorola. The company used to be at the forefront of technology in everything digital, but buyouts, restructuring, and eventually becoming another OEM nameplate has left Motorola little more than a memory that old tech dudes like me will fondly look back with melancholy reflections of the good old days. If I sound bitter, it’s because I am, just a little.
Where we are today with Motorola as an Android vendor has a particularly interesting story, too. The company was a pioneer of Android, releasing what many call Android’s pivot point with the Motorola Droid/Milestone. While not a compelling device by today’s standards, it was the first Android phone that fused state of the art specs and a massive marketing campaign to launch it into millions of pockets. Partnering with Verizon as an alternative to Apple’s iPhone probably didn’t hurt either.
As the Motorola name fell out of fashion — mostly because Samsung learned how to make amazing phones and work with carriers, too — the company fell on hard times and the hardware division was scooped up by Google itself. We enjoyed several years of phones built by people who knew how to make hardware and software for them, then Google decided to sell off the “phone” side of Motorola to Lenovo. By then, however, the company’s phone business was little more than a name and a handful of design patents.
Lenovo is not a small fly-by-night company that has no clue when it comes to making top-notch electronics. The company acquired the rights to build ThinkPad laptops from IBM and has continued the success of the brand while also expanding it away from just very expensive machines designed for true road warriors. Many — myself included — had high hopes for Motorola under Lenovo’s care. Most of those who held those hopes have been…