Google's Moto X Cleverly Appeals to Your Individuality

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With its just-announced, much-anticipated Moto X phone, Google has decided to play up the vanity angle, understanding that consumers care as much, if not more, about personal style than substance — a complete turn-around from Motorola's usual pitch to tech dorks. Moto X comes in 504 potential combinations for any personality type or gender, with 18 available backplate covers, the choice of a black or white front panel, and seven different colors for the side buttons and the ring around the rear camera lens. As Google's ad campaign makes clear, this phone will match any style, such as "feminine mystique" for the ladies (or maybe teens):

And there's this "kemosabe" pitch for a certain type of dude:

Only way down at the bottom of its promotional site does Google add a "message for our tech geeks," listing the specs, which The Verge assures are "mid-range throughout." (Meaning: nothing special.) Google has literally put specs last and design first. 

That's the exact opposite of how Motorola has sold all of its previous phones. One of the original Droid commercials titled "Pretty" declared: "It's not a princess, it's a robot. A phone that trades hairdo for can do" — an obvious jab at the iPhone. Even as late as 2012, Motorola sold the Droid Razr Maxx with the tagline "Droid does." All of its commercials start with that "Droid" robot sound meant to appeal to people robots.

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That strategy, however, did not fare well. The iPhone, despite being a "digital princess," won on its looks, feel and user interface. And Motorola smartphones have continually lost their market share since smartphones became a must-have. 

And, so, enter the Moto X: "designed for mass appeal, not just a slice of the population like Star Wars fans," as Wired's Steven Levy aptly puts it. The masses, as opposed to the early-adapter geeks, care what their phones look and feel like. The Moto X doesn't just recognize that, it plays into your particular tastes. Instead of going out and buying an iPhone case to reflect your individuality, the Moto X comes pre-made just for you. It's even made in the good ol' U.S.A. to appeal to your moral sensibilities. It's not just for a type, the claim goes, but for every type.

Of course, as other good-looking phones have learned, appearance only gets a device so far. But, some techies say, despite those mid-range specs, its looks and some other defining features are enough to push it over the edge. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.