Following closely on the heels of the famously successful launch of the Moto G exclusively on India's biggest e-commerce site Flipkart, Motorola said it would start selling the upmarket version of the phone, the X, today (not to be confused with the low-cost Nokia "X" that was launched with much fanfare in Barcelona a few weeks ago). Once again, it was going to launch the phone on Flipkart.
Apparently, a press release said that the X would be flogged for $393 for the colour variants and $426 for the wood finish versions — in other words, not very different from their US pricing. For these prices, the X gives you a 1.7Ghz dual-core Krait processor, Android 4.4, a 4.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen, a 10MP rear camera, and water-repellent coating. It comes with two years of 50GB free storage on Google Drive.
The last time around when Flipkart sold the G exclusively, it was a humongous success, with phones selling out in minutes — a pioneering event in the country (which shows you how far behind the times we are, considering messaging apps in China are doing the same with their own digital wallets and credit cards).
For Motorola, it was a no brainer; the company probably spent close to zero in marketing costs unlike its competitors, and created quality buzz for itself. If this becomes a trend — and there's no reason why it wouldn't be — the ones to sympathize with will be offline retailers, which, as it is, are unable to match prices of e-tailers.
So the only question is, will Indian buyers go for the Moto X with the same zeal that they gobbled up the G?
If you do a cursory peek at some of the online Indian consumer tech sites, you will discover some concern as to whether the X is really worth its price. Fans point out that yes, Moto X has a better battery, camera, processor, and screen, and even has touch-less control, which no other phone has.
However, observers say that the X is just nominally better than the G, making it a "slight" upgrade and not worth the $165 price difference between the two. A dual-core processor and a 720p screen makes it a "last year" model, and for the same price, point out critics, you can get one of the shining stars of the Android range (or at any price, in terms of value for money): The Google Nexus 5. Today's frontliners are by and large quad core with 1080p, they say. Moreover, with a non-waterproof body and non-expandable storage, the proposition becomes even more questionable.
Today's launch will determine how Motorola — or should we say Lenovo — has read the market. If the phone flies off the shelves, it has read the Indian consumer correctly and proves that there is not only more depth to the Indian market, even during a slowdown, but that the sensation caused by the G has been enough to lure premium phone buyers into the X's orbit.
However, my gut instinct is that it may not be anywhere near as successful as the G. If this is so, Motorola has lost a golden opportunity to launch a phone in the $300 to $325 category, which would have been an ideal price point to lure the G lovers into a more upmarket option without having them break the bank.