Motorola’s Guy Kawasaki talks phone personalization, could hint at X Phone sales model


Motorola advisor (and former Apple evangelist) Guy Kawasaki posed an interesting question recently via Google+: “Wouldn’t it be great if you could personalize your phone like this?” The this of his question referred to a video clip highlighting Porsche Exclusive, the auto makers offering allow for buyers to create a completely custom vehicle, from paint job to stereo and more.

So what does this have to do with Android and rumors of the X Phone? You might recall a report from last week detailing how Moto will approach the brand. It was said that Motorola and Google will offer buyers the option to customize different aspects of their new handset at time of purchase, including RAM, storage size, and color. The idea would be akin to the sort of upgrades offered when buying a PC or laptop.

Is Kawasaki’s post a hint at what we can expect when the X Phone is unveiled later this year? It seems more than coincidence based on the recent speculation. It would certainly add an interesting twist to smartphone buying, treating the devices more like the mini personal computers they really are and less like the mobile phones they started as.

[via DroidLife]

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  1. If it means I can finally get a superphone with a keyboard, stock android and an unlocked bootloader then yes. Then the OG droid would finally have a worthwhile sucessor.

    1. I don’t think the body of the device will change, but you should be able to make under the hood modifications.

    2. I used to be a physical keyboard kind of person, but the quality of the on-screen keyboards has become soo much better than it was when the OG droid came out (which I owned and loved) that I will never go back to a physical keyboard. I am much faster without it, even if I’m not as accurate.

      1. You must not do command line style work, like SSH. Try using an onscreen keyboard for that, and still tell me how onscreen keyboards are so much better – aside from the Hacker’s keyboard, which is too small to be useful on most devices, they don’t cut it. I realize the common thought these days is “what’s good for me is good for everyone else”, but some of us still have individual needs.

        1. The Hacker’s keyboard works decently on 7″ device, but no joy for 4.3″ (what I have). So many times I’ve pressed the “Ctrl + A” with a single finger in a rush and it just wiped all my text with the next character!

          I also vote for physical keyboard!

        2. my classmate’s mom makes $70/hr on the laptop. She has been without a job for 10 months but last month her check was $16457 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on  Ask25.c­om

        3. You know, there are ways of wording responses that are more informative and make you sound like less of a jerk. No, I do not do command line work, like SSH – I don’t even know SSH is for that matter. I do, in fact, realize that everyone is different and there are individualistic needs. If you re-read my response, you’ll notice that I am only talking about myself and my experience. Nowhere did I hint at the idea that all phones should be the same and be devoid of physical keyboards. Seriously, re-read your response and think about how you could have phrased it so that people would learn something from it. On the bright side, I am about to look up SSH.

          1. “You know, there are ways of wording responses that are more informative and make you sound like less of a jerk”

            He’s just trying to push your buttons

        4. I do some command line work. Hacker´s keyboard is OK if you use a Galaxy Note like I do. There is also other keyboard named “Programmer Keyboard” that is basically a full keyboard. I changed from a Milestone (GSM version of the OG Droid) to the Note 1 and it was a “big” change. At first I though that the thing was huge, but it fit in all my pockets and I felt in love with the screen.
          I used to be a keyboard freak, but after the Note I will never go “small” screen again and somehow the touch keyboard on a new/big phone is OK for me. I still understand your pain. There is not a single “good” phone on sale with a decent hardware keyboard.

        5. In that case, get a foldable Bluetooth Keyboard. The keyboards on phones are too small to be of much real use.

          1. People want choices. There are very few good keyboard choices and if the big deal about this new phone is that you get to choose whether it comes in red or blue then whoop de doo.

      2. With all the new keyboards I agree first swipe, now JB and soon Minuum

        1. Which are all 100% worthless for ssh. Autocorrect kills it.

          1. You can turn off Autocorrect, you know…

  2. This was an idea I shared about 6 months back when you guys posted how some random person received an SIII with a matching faceplate and theme. I believe the picture was something he sent in as a drawing. It is a dragon theme anyway I commented how customizable phones would be great, ram, memory capacity, color and even screen size.

    1. For that, there are things as gelaskins. I’ve happily used their products and can recommend if you’re so much into matching faceplate and wallpaper. This though goes much deeper under the hood of the phone, and I say it makes total sense. It also means I can finally get a barebone with minimal smart configuration and a huge batter, and focus my funds on high-end tablets instead.

  3. so moto going to the build your own PC model.. innovative. chances are it’ll cost you more and there won’t be any subsidies from carriers attached. Sounds fun but not sure about paying $900 for an unlocked custom phone.

    1. speak for yourself; if I can get the exact phone I want, $900 is worth it. My Note II was 750 the day it came out off contract and worth every penny.

    2. Sounds a fair model to me. Let mom-and-dad stores sell decent customized phones. Leave carriers twist the arms of whoever they wish.

    3. my thoughts exactly. a build your own phone route will ultimately cost more. if a customer wanted a phone like the Note 2 built, it probably would have cost $800 or $850 or more. the android ecosystem is diverse enough that we can get what we want already. maybe not from the manufacturer we prefer though.

      personally, if Google is going this route with Motorola, it may be to address fragmentation. sure, there are many combinations of specs you could throw in a phone. but with a customer able to choose exactly what phone they want, from the manufacturer they want, all the current OEMs will not be able to survive. through quality of product and customer service, companies like Samsung or Motorola may force others out of business under this model.

      1. If that is true please tell me what super phone has a keyboard and stock android. I will wait.

    4. You will see unsubsidized pricing go down, not up; with this model. Note the cost of the N4. Fewer parties taking a cut.

    5. I don’t think this is likely, but here’s a possible scenario to give you options. There could be a kiosk at your carrier’s store where you could custom build your X-Phone. As you customize, there would be a running tally on what the phone will cost on and off contract, then you can choose which option you would like to use to pay.

      You continue to use your old phone while your new X-Phone is built. The X-Phone ships directly to your home. If you chose off-contract, you would simply swap SIM cards and/or call in to activate your new phone for your line. If you chose on-contract, there would be a unique ID number tied to the phone line you’re upgrading from and you call in or go online to activate the phone.

  4. This seems so natural, yet so innovative at the same time. It’s true that we are now using computers that can make calls and fit into our pockets rather than phones that can browse the internet- so why shouldn’t we strive to achieve computer-like retail channel opportunities? I gave $700 for my Galaxy Note II, so I wouldn’t have a problem giving at least that for a custom phone. I doubt we’ll see options in the Note territory, but anything is possible at this point.

  5. While I would like to have more customization for my phone, I don’t want to have to pick from that many option. More options usually means a higher cost.

    1. i’m sure there will be a base model

  6. I’d buy one. Especially if it’s exactly the way i want. I’d pay unsubsidized pricing too.

  7. @ Camelsnot: subsidies will eventually go away, 2-3yrs from now.

  8. I am sure people will figures out things to whine about after a couple of months even if they got to design their own phone. Just the way people are in general

    1. I still think food tastes good when you make it yourself even if you’d throw it out if it was made by someone else.

  9. steven, heres your acknowledgement you so desperately seek.

  10. if moto can break away from the verizon exclusive that would already be a huge step for them.

  11. A lot of the success of this model depends on how long people are planning to hold on to the phone. Customization also has implications for resale value.

    1. Not everyone resells their phone after 6 months. In fact, outside of this website, I’ve never seen anyone resell their phone after such a short amount of time

  12. Well today where phones are basically little PCs I’m surprised no one else offers this yet. Dell was very successful with this system in the PC era

  13. It is not a realistic idea though.

    1. Seriously??? We can put car sized rovers on Mars and send satellites out of our own solar system, but building a customized smartphone isn’t realistic? GET OUTA HERE! LOL!!!

  14. Sounds gimmicky to me. How many options are they really going to offer and how many combinations are people really going to choose? Right now, high end phones come with only 1 RAM option, 2 Storage options, and maybe 3 or 4 colors (carrier dependent in some cases).

    With a PC there are just more options and components you can choose that make customization worthwhile and even then the vast majority still just buy the one off the shelf that they can take home the same day.

  15. I do really like this idea, of being able to customize your phone, mainly because there have been SO MANY phones for me, that come sooooo close to being what I want, but there’s always one thing they mess up that makes it a deal-killer for me. Like for example, there have been many phones, where they just skimp on the camera, or skimp on having a removable battery, or SD card slot. I’d love to be able to choose these options, so I can max out my next phone!

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