José Cardoso started working at Motorola in 2000. At that time, not even the great success of the company in that decade, the Razr V3, still existed. The world was very different: the minimum wage was 151 reais, the newest Windows was the ME fiasco, The Sims was new and StarTac was still a cell phone for a few. Since then, everything has changed a lot, especially in the cell phones.
If the Razr became Motorola’s best-selling device in that decade, the Moto G, launched in 2013, became the best-selling product in the company’s history. It reached the market for 650 reais with hardware configuration similar to that of rivals that cost twice the price. In addition, it still came with an Android system interface very similar to that offered by Google, which was especially important at a time of abundant commercial agreements between manufacturers, operators and companies to personalize the look of the phone and pre-install applications.
In the position of President of Motorola in Brazil since Sérgio Buniac took over the global leadership of the company in April 2018, Cardoso has closely followed the evolution of the Moto G in recent years. After Motorola moved from Google to Lenovo, the pace of launches accelerated – and so did news. The Moto G soon became the focus of the company, which set aside the highly sophisticated cellphone segment dominated by Apple and Samsung. With that, in 8 years, the product has won nine generations. Until today. Now, the company’s best-selling smartphone rises to the next level in a commemorative version of its tenth edition, but without losing the premise of bringing more expensive device features to a more affordable price range.
Costing 43% less than the simplest iPhone 12, at R $ 3,999, the Moto G 100 comes with features like zoom cameras, macro and ultra-wide-angle lens (there GoPro), a screen with an image refresh rate of 90 Hz, above the 60 Hz standard, and compatibility with 5G internet networks. What’s more, the cell phone, for the first time in the Brazilian cell phone market, has a fragrance – like a new car. The product comes from the factory with a mild and sweet smell. Inside, the device has the Snapdragon 865 processor, a component previously found only in cell phones of the category called premium, in the jargon of the market.
Check out, in full, the interview with José Cardoso, president of Motorola in Brazil, about the situation in the Brazilian and global markets, the return to the high-end mobile segment and the expansion of business to areas such as watches (still in 2021).
EXAME: With the challenges brought by the pandemic, how has the year 2021 been for Motorola?
José Cardoso: We started 2021 with our foot on the gas. We have ambition for growth in the year and we are maintaining the plan for the country this year, as well as plans with customers. Demand for electronics has grown during the pandemic. New needs arose and we started to need more memory, processing, camera on cell phone, for several reasons, such as personal life, study or work. In the digital transformation, we have been working to support our partners during this phase. Last year, we took important steps in the premium line with Edge and Razr. We seek to grow above the growth rate of the Brazilian market this year. For this, we need new products, strong performance with the sales and innovation channels. It is worth noting that about 30% of Motorola’s sales are through online channels.
Motorola now takes the Moto G to a new level. What is the expectation with the new product now with features seen only on smartphones that cost almost 10 thousand reais?
The Moto G 100 remains an amazing smartphone at an amazing price. He delivers product items of 8 thousand reais for 4 thousand. The new Moto G 100 takes the promise of the Moto G in another category. Last year, we launched models above the Moto G, such as the G Plus and the 5G, and they were very well accepted in Brazil. The consumer understands premises that the franchise delivers. If we can use Moto G to grow alongside Edge in the premium segment, why not? And the Moto G 100 is a celebration of the tenth edition of the line. There are many fans who have had several models of the smartphone. In this movement for the premium (above R $ 3 thousand), the intermediary segment will continue to be served. For him, we have the launches that arrive next to the 100, which are the G10 and G30 models.
Motorola is also betting on a fragrance on the Moto G 100. Why?
The fragrance is an identity that Motorola is conducting a pilot test. We want to create a different smartphone experience. Smell is also part of the experience of buying a new product and this has not been explored in the technology industry.
Motorola spent a lot of time outside of the iPhone segment, but came back last year. How has performance been in that specific category?
The premium segment in Brazil grew 53% in value last year, according to IDC. The total market share went from 15.4 to 21.8%. Motorola doubled its participation in the premium segment (above R $ 3 thousand). In the category of G9 Plus and 5G, which cost up to 3 thousand, Motorola has a 40% market share. The G franchise has been doing well because it has a high perception of value by the consumer.
What will be Motorola’s strategy for the shift from 4G to 5G?
We have already started to, in quotes, democratize technology with the Moto G 5G. Below 5,000 reais, Motorola has 100% of the 5G market. The total is 55% according to the IDC. We lead the 5G market in Brazil today. This innovation will be increasingly relevant and we will lead the process of migrating to the 5G network in Brazil.
In addition to new phones, what else is on Motorola’s radar for 2021?
The first Moto Store in the world will open in Brazil. Today, we already have kiosks throughout the country, but we are entering the premium segment, with products and services, and we are looking for a way to provide more experiences for the consumer. The first store should be launched in the second quarter.
With Ready For, you are making experiences like the cell phone taking the place of a notebook. There is this movement in the industry, from similar approaches to laptops with processors developed for mobile devices. Do you believe that the cell phone can, in some cases, replace the notebook?
“Substitute” is a strong word. We are part of Lenovo and we know both fields. The ideal is to extract the best of both devices. What Motorola and Lenovo can offer are the synergies of the devices. For the younger generation, the cell phone meets many, but not all, needs. For example, when typing text, the computer can be even better. But the cell phone has benefits such as the ease of carrying in your pocket.
How is the participation of the Brazilian market today in the context of Motorola worldwide?
Motorola is among the top three markets for Motorola globally. In Brazil, it is solidly in second position. With the Brazilian Sérgio Buniac as the company’s global CEO, we saw a resumption of growth in all regions, USA, China and Europe, last year. We see a clear evolution in the company as a whole. Brazil must continue to be important and also to be a laboratory for new experiences, as we have done in the past.
Why was Brazil, a country with so many challenges, such as logistics, chosen as a testing market for the company?
This is a movement that comes from Motorola leaders who have always tried to innovate in Brazil. The company has always felt comfortable doing tests in Brazil and everything went well. We always seek to bring new things to the Brazilian consumer and we have used the national market to validate news and take them to the global market.
Talking about devices besides the cell phone, Motorola there had other categories of products, such as smart watches. There are also headphones by the brand. How are these categories today and what can we expect for the future?
In the premium segment, consumers ask for other equipment and services in addition to cell phones. We have done studies to develop novelties. In the ecosystem, we have an ambitious plan to increase coverage with headphones and other equipment, such as smart watches. It will be something that increased this year. The G user is also emotionally involved with the brand and seeks something more than the smartphone.