There comes a time in every company’s life where a company must defend itself and its work from attack. And as for companies that are not the target of attack? They’re often the ones striking in the wild.
Such is the case with Motorola and Apple. In an interview with The New Yorker, Apple iPhone, and iPad designer head Jony Ive criticized another manufacturer for its phone choices and customization for customers: “Their value proposition was, ‘Make it whatever you want. You can choose whatever color you want.’ I believe that’s abdicating your responsibility as a designer,” Ive said.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize what company Ive had in mind.
Motorola’s been a thorn in Apple’s side in terms of hardware design since the 2013 Moto X arrived on the market. Motorola has a history of making flip phones, but only under Google’s direction did Motorola show any signs of life, going on to create not only the Moto X but also the Moto G, Moto E, and the Moto Hint. The once Google-owned company was even praised for its processor architecture in the first-generation Moto X, with language and contextual processors that ran alongside of the device’s dual-core processor and bore a striking resemblance to Apple’s own processor architecture. While its specs were underwhelming, Motorola created an excellent device that was like by some consumers.
Flash forward to 2014, and Motorola decided to increase the second-generation Moto X specifications in order to reach more consumers, opting for a quad-core processor instead of a dual-core and a Quad HD (1440p) display instead of a 720p display. Add this to the fact that Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, the company’s first phablet announced just last September, had a bending design flaw that saw some iPhones curve after being placed in their side pockets. #Bendgate was more than just a hashtag.
As of last summer, Motorola announced its first smartwatch, the round and elegant Moto 360. The device turned heads when it was teased in a few videos before its arrival in late summer, and one famous Apple blogger, John Gruber, went on to praise the device because of its design — quite a feat for a company whose flip phones are a memory of days gone by.
But Apple is not as invincible as it once was. Whereas Apple’s iPhone dominated the market just eight years ago, things are different in today’s smartphone market.
But it’s also no secret that Apple’s design philosophy is different from that of most manufacturers: whereas Apple designs an iPhone and dictates customer desires, Android manufacturers, particularly Motorola, have made a living from consumer choice. Ive’s attack on Motorola doesn’t make him correct; it just makes him a designer with a different way of doing things. After all, if Ive were correct, then a number of painters and musicians have also neglected their responsibilities in the arts — seeing that they’ve created their artwork and music with the goal of leaving the interpretation up to each individual.
You can rest assured that Motorola President Rick Osterloh had a few words of his own for a company whose designs have been deemed to be nothing short of boring and whose control over software and hardware have been deemed nothing short of dictatorial: “Frankly, we’re taking a directly opposite approach to them. We do see a real dichotomy in this marketplace, where you’ve got people like Apple making so much money and charging such outrageous prices. We think that’s not the future.”
“A great smartphone and a great mobile Internet experience, shouldn’t be an expensive luxury. It should be a simple choice for everyone,” Osterloh said.
Perhaps it can be said that Ive is right. On the other hand, it could also be the case that Ive and his company have neglected their human responsibility to consider the budget needs of consumers who don’t want to walk around with a Rolex in their hands or pockets — or on their wrists.