De Pas: Nigerian Consumers Deserve Best Quality in Smartphone Devices

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Director, Business Operations and Development, Motorola Africa, Marcel Van De Pas, spoke with Emma Okonji on how Motorola plans to use the Lenovo experience to bring innovation and quality to the new Motorola re-launched devices for the Nigerian market. Excerpts:

The Motorola brand of mobile phones used to be a very strong brand in Nigeria before it went under. What exactly propelled you to re-launch the brand for the Nigerian market?

Motorola Mobility changed hands twice, first with Google and later Lenovo. After one year that we sold the Motorola Mobility to Google, we bought it over from Google, in agreement with Lenovo, before starting the process of integration with Lenovo, which took some time. So Motorola is now one of the holdings of Lenovo and it has taken its time to complete the integration of Motorola facilities into that of Lenovo, and we decided to re-launch the new brand. Although Lenovo currently own Motorola Mobility, we are launching the new brand as Motorola. We believe in the strong brand of Motorola, hence we are launching as Motorola, even though we have acquired it. With the acquisition of Motorola Mobility, we did not only get the brand, we also acquired its top notch research and development engineers in Chicago. After the integration of Motorola Mobility with that of Lenovo in terms of the facilities from both brands, we decided to roll out as Motorola in order to maintain the strong brand identity of Motorola Mobility.

With the successful integration, does it mean you are phasing out the Lenovo brand of mobile phones? 

Yes, we are phasing out the Lenovo brand of mobile phones, but in a gradual process, because we still have some of the Lenovo phones still on sale. By the end of the year, we will be able to completely phase out the Lenovo brand of mobile phones. What that means is that we will not be producing new model of Lenovo phones, but we will continue to sell the existing Lenovo phones alongside the new brand of Motorola phones till the end of the year. Customers that buy the Lenovo phone will continue to receive after sales support from us for some period of time. We have engaged Technology Distribution (TD) and another distributor, for the distribution of the new Motorola phones in the Nigerian market.

 

How do you intend to manage after sales support service of the newly launched Motorola brand of mobile phones?

After sales support service is key to our kind of business and we have made adequate arrangement for that. Currently we have established seven customer care centres that will be managed by three service centre partners, and we plan to expand them as the market grows.

What could be the reason for maintaining the Motorola brand name, even after it has been acquired by Lenovo?

Lenovo is a very strong brand name for our personal computers (PCs) products and we want to maintain our strong market presence in PCs with the Lenovo brand name, and allow the Motorola brand name to drive our mobile phones, since Motorola is also a known brand in the mobile phone business. We see the Motorola brand name as a smooth transition for our mobile phones. Today Lenovo is a $45 billion company, with 55,000 employees, serving large chunk of customers in 160 countries of the world. Over the last three years, Lenovo has grown from 202 to 370 as of today, in the global 500 fortune companies of the world. But our goal is to be among the first 100 of the top global 500 fortune companies of the world. So the trust that Motorola is being managed by one of the big companies of the world, is also a boost for our mobile phone devices, under the Motorola brand name.

 

What were the challenges that forced the old Motorola brand to go under and how do you intend to manage such challenges?

The truth is that we were not part of the old Motorola brand that went under and would not know what the challenges were as at the time the old Motorola brand was sold to Google.

 

So what are the features of the new Motorola brand of mobile phones that are being launched, and what makes them different and unique from the features of existing mobile phone brands in the country?

The uniqueness of the new Motorola devices comes with experience. The features are also unique because the different models of our mobile phones are built on the latest Android operating system, and we added extra features that will further enhance customer experience. For example it comes with inbuilt intelligence such that when the customer shakes the phone while holding it, the phone features automatically turns to camera mode and with another shake, it changes to selfie mode. The feature enables customers to take quick photos without searching for the photo icon. The phones also come with the business card readers, which gives customers quick access to online information without downloading the application. Motorola has been known for its innovative and disruptive brand and we are maintaining that to drive the new Motorola brand. So we are moving from product-centric business to consumer-centric in order to give the consumers better experience that will enhance their lifestyles, using the Motorola technology.

The new Motorola is being relaunched at a time when there are several existing brands of mobile phones in the Nigerian market. How do you intend to cope with competition?

Our products will definitely stand us out, irrespective of the number of existing mobile phone brands in the Nigerian market. I know that Nigerians want the best quality and that is what we are bringing to the market and we are not afraid of competition because we will definitely have our own market share because we have quality and affordable products that are unique in the market.  Again, do not forget that consumers loved the old Motorola brand especially the Motorola 3310 and the Motorola Razor because of its quality and we are coming with same quality that will excite and meet consumer needs. Consumers want trusted brand and we strongly believe that the new Motorola will have its market share. The feedback we got after our recent roadshow, shows that customers in Nigeria are looking forward to seeing the Motorola brand again.

Nigerians are multitasking and the effect is on the battery life of the phone with which they do varieties of things while on the move. So what is the battery life of the new Motorola brand of phones?

Our phones come with inbuilt power bank that offers more than 22 hours of talk time, without draining the battery. The phones come with standby mode screen that helps consumers to preserve the phone battery life. It comes with several features that extend the battery life of the smartphone.

How many models are being launched and have they been launched in other countries before Nigeria?

The phones are quite new and we are launching them simultaneously in Nigeria and other countries within and outside Nigeria. We launch with reasons and we launch when we are ready to do so. We are launching eight models at the same time but they come in different categories. We decided to launch with eight models at a time because we are coming out with full a model launch. So we are launching the Motor C, Motor C+, Motor E4, Motor E4+. For the premium smartphones, we have Motor G, Motor G+, Motor Z and Motor Z+.

Based on the models of smartphones that your are launching, what is your target audience?

Our target audience is in two folds. The  youths for our entry smartphones and the premium audience for the premium smartphones. Motorola as a brand has always been about innovativeness and market disruption. The youths that we know are visionary and they want to explore new things and they seek new ways of achieving their goals, and the Motorola phones are their best target.

I understand that the launch is targeted at the dealers. So where do you place the consumers and when are you having a launch specifically for the consumers?

For us, the consumers are as important as the dealers, and we see them as integral part of our business. So we decided to organise this initial launch for dealers only because we want to give the dealers a sense of confidence in our brand. When we fully establish the brand among the dealers, we will surely have the consumer launch, where we will have direct interface with the consumers.

How many dealers are you working with in your first launch plan?

We are looking at working with over 70 core dealers within and outside Nigeria. But even at that, we have over 200 partners on ground to drive the Motorola brand, which include Jumia, Yudala, Konga, Slot, TD, among others.

How affordable are the new Motorola smartphones?

Affordability is important to us because we want to put our phones in the hands of all Nigerians. Our entry phones come relatively cheap so that even low income earners can afford them. The premium phones are also relatively cheap based on the quality of the phone. So our price ranges between N26,000 and N96,000. But the bottom line is the value proposition of the brand of smartphones at we are launching.

 

Most phones in the market are water resistant, while some are water proof. Could that be said of the new Motorola brand of phones?

Our phones come with nano coating that gives it some forms of water resistance but not water proof. The nano coating prevents dews and slight showers of rain from draining into the phone, but will not resist water penetration if submerged into water for several minutes. The truth is that water-proof phones are quite expensive because of the water proof features attached to it.

What are some of the security features built around the new Motorola smartphones?

The new Motorola smartphones come with the fingerprint security feature, which also serves as navigation key for the consumer to navigate the phone menu. Again our smartphones come with biometric readers.

What is your projected market share for the new Motorola brand of smartphones in the next two years?

In Brazil, we are already number two mobile phone company and we are targeting more growth, and our target is to replicate the Brazil experience in Nigeria and other African countries. Our vision is to become the best phone manufacturer in terms of quality and consumer acceptance.