For The Motorola model, A Dignified Retirement isn’t such a unhealthy possibility

the truth that a name has a fantastic legacy doesn’t suggest it will have to be kept propped up forever.

January 9, 2016 

rather less than a yr in the past, chinese computer behemoth Lenovo announced it was once buying Motorola Mobility from Google. within the press free up announcing the news, it known as the Motorola title “iconic” and “world-reknowned,” and touted its personal expertise at caring for famous brands, because it did when it assumed duty for the ThinkPad nameplate through buying IBM’s pc industry in 2005.

That used to be then. Now CNet’s Roger Cheng is reporting that Lenovo is not so smitten with the Motorola model after all. Henceforth, it’s going to downplay it in want of emphasizing “Moto”—a nickname that Motorola had already embraced in latest years—and pairing that name with Lenovo’s own brand.

On the legit Motorola blog, the company clarified that it doesn’t plan to entirely kill off the Motorola name. however it stated that “Moto” is “recent and engaging,” which is presumably a polite manner of suggesting that it’s decided that “Motorola” shouldn’t be.

except you’re 100 years old or thereabouts, you do not needless to say a time when the Motorola model wasn’t part of American tradition. It originated in 1930 as a brand applied to automobile radios by a Chicago manufacturer named Galvin Manufacturing, which explains the “Motor” prefix. The “ola” phase was common in branding for electronics at the time, comparable to Victrola phonographs and Rock-Ola jukeboxes.

A Motorola ad from the glory days

Motorola (which Galvin adopted as its company title in 1948) become enormous via applying its somewhat particular identify to an dizzying array of merchandise—continuously helping to pioneer new categories. In its 1967 annual document—just to select a year at random—it designated product strains that integrated tv units, phonographs, semiconductors, satellite tv for pc communications programs for space flights, walkie-talkies for police departments, heavy-accountability alternators for vans, and test-scoring machines for schools. And, sure, car radios.

the corporate made the processor throughout the first Macintosh computer. It invented the cell phone and produced such iconic models as the big name-Tac and Razr. Even recently, Motorola Mobility has executed ingenious things like promoting user-customizable smartphones and helping to jump-start the sensible-watch trade.

it can be been a long time due to the fact Motorola was the Motorola of yore, though. It offered off its safeguard trade in 2001 and spun out its semiconductor arm in 2004. It got rid of its automobile operations in 2006, and in 2010, split itself into two firms. One used to be the cellphone industry, which Google sold for $12.5 billion in 2011 and then became over to Lenovo for $2.9 billion (sans patent portfolio) not up to three years later. that’s the part that’s slimming its brand right down to “Moto.”

There Are Worse Fates

the opposite stand-on my own Motorola created by using the 2010 breakup is Motorola options, a maker of everything from two-means radios to physique-worn cameras. it is nonetheless very a lot extant and displays no sign of wanting to dump its moniker. So Lenovo’s transfer simply implies that the Motorola brand is going to fade away on smartphones and other shopper merchandise. given that Motorola invented the smartphone, that’s sad information.

Motorola’s govt staff with some of its products, as proven in its 1958 annual document

however no longer too sad. What’s really depressing is what’s took place to a bunch of alternative once-proud American expertise manufacturers that at last fell on laborious occasions. Names reminiscent of Bell & Howell, Polaroid, and Westinghouse. they’re now zombies, kept alive by way of licensing applications that permit random corporations to make use of them on merchandise by means of paying a charge. that’s why you could buy Bell & Howell pest repellers, Polaroid headphones, and Westinghouse wine cellars.

(just to make issues extra complicated, a part of the outdated Bell & Howell still exists as a manufacturer of business equipment corresponding to envelope-stuffing machines. it is unrelated to the pest-repeller Bell & Howell, a truth it explains at some length on a website web page titled “that’s now not us!“)

Then there’s Packard Bell, as soon as one among Motorola’s archrivals in the radio industry, which is now a laptop brand utilized by Acer in a lot of countries—but now not the U.S., where it originated. the one remaining value it has is that it sounds vaguely acquainted.

When a brand becomes a zombie, the perfect which you could hope for is that it can be on occasion applied to something at least vaguely presentable, like Polaroid’s cube wearable digital camera. but i will’t think about that Polaroid’s founder Edwin Land, one of the vital extraordinary technological innovators and entrepreneurs of all time, would be comfortable with the dice, let by myself one thing like a Polaroid Nintendo charging dock.

“Motorola” is already available for rent: an organization known as Zoom Telephonics, for instance, markets cable modems under the emblem. i think that there will probably be firms keen to make use of the name long after Lenovo loses pastime in advertising and marketing Moto smartphones.

however you recognize what? although you stay fond of the Motorola model, as i am, that does not imply you must root for it to live to tell the tale indefinitely. As of at this time, Lenovo’s Motorola products are nonetheless very first rate—and graceful disappearance on a high observe would be some distance most popular to zombification.

[Photo: Remy Gabalda, AFP, Getty Images]

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