Does brand heritage matter in consumer electronics?

Does brand heritage matter in consumer electronics?

Summary: Motorola announced a new RAZR on Tuesday. Does brand heritage exist in the fleeting world of consumer electronics?


We've seen cracks in the robust enterprise armor of Research in Motion last week after an outage took out the company's legs before a global audience.

We've seen Hewlett-Packard step away from its most well-known product, the consumer laptop, as it courts the enterprise.

And today we see Motorola resurrect its most popular modern brand, RAZR, for a new Google Android smartphone on Verizon Wireless.

In the fleeting world of technology, does heritage matter?

Motorola thinks so. I'll let my colleagues at CNET offer the full specifications rundown (4.3 in. display and a 7.1 mm profile among them) but I find it interesting that, after years of dabbling in Android and creating new brands (Xoom, various Droid models for which Verizon licenses the name, Motoblur), the company is coming full-circle.

Which makes me wonder, really: does heritage (on either the company or product levels) matter to you when making a purchase? Does it matter for the products you buy for your home? Does it matter for the products you buy for the office? (Does the product itself hold up to its reputation? If not, how quickly does reputation fade?)

In a world where multiple companies have a hand in building a product -- the chipmakers, the middleware providers, the overseas manufacturers, the in-house designers, all of whom could change model-to-model -- it's a wonder that heritage exists at all.

Consumer electronics: the Guns 'N' Roses of gadgets.

To me, RAZR is strongly identified with the flip form factor. It always meant thin, of course, but that's the association I have. Will the new one be eclipsed by the original's iconic reputation?

Topics: Outage, Hardware, Mobility, BlackBerry, Security

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • RE: Does brand heritage matter in consumer electronics?

    For the enterprise I believe it does. Many commenting on today's announcement were in middle school when the Razr was popular.
  • RE: Does brand heritage matter in consumer electronics?

    In electronics heritage means zero, zip, nada.... witness Sony's attempts to market digital music players under the Walkman brand. No one's going to buy a Motorola Android phone because it's called Razr. If they buy it, it will be for the specs. Heritage sells cars (Ferrari, Maserati, Aston, Lotus) it doesn't sell cellphones.
  • It only matters if the manufacturers make it so

    Meaning that if a new RAZR phone would have some significant connection to what made the past RAZR phones popular, it would matter, but just reusing the name is not going to get anyone to choose this phone over another. In fact, I'm a bit disappointed because I really liked my RAZR phone and would like something like it, but with a few updated features, and the name set expectations for which this phone doesn't appear to deliver. That makes me even less likely to want this phone than if I had looked at it without any expectations.