Monday, February 9, 2009

When Going Green is Going too Far

(Photo source)
Dear Motorola,

Your R&D team needs to be fired. Introducing a
“green” cell phone 1.0 model when BOTH supply and demand have shifted towards smart phones which dominate the cell phone 2.0 movement, makes as much sense trying to sell pagers to Tweens. Face it, it’s a dying technology. If I was in your shoes, I would ask for your developer’s resignation, and ship all of your remaining inventory to Al Gore, because I’m pretty sure he represents 100% of your customer base.

Why? Honestly Motorola, why? Do you think that because I’m a eco-friendly, carbon-conscious Echo Boomer I’ll drop some serious coin for a “Green” cell phone? You have extremely over-estimated the greenness of Gen-Y.

I’m all for sustainability. I’m all for preserving the environment. I think that America has an addiction to oil, and that Obama is taking excellent strides in helping our economy move towards alternative energy sources. I also think the Prius is a great car, not that I’d ever buy one because it would instantaneously promote me to tree-hugger status, but because it paved the road for hybrids and brought attention to environmental issues at large. However, I’m not going to ditch my iPhone for a carbon-neutral, prehistoric looking phone that lacks as much functionality as the Bush Administration.

Here’s four quick reasons why your green phone is a horrible idea (which I’m surprised you couldn’t come up with on your own in the product development stage):

1. Your unique product offering is wrong for the product category. Being successful in the cell phone market means cramming as much new tech features into the smallest possible device, not sacrificing functionality for being eco-friendly.

2. Your technology is out of date. It’s the analog to the smart phone’s digital. Your phone has maybe an inch of screen real estate, no apps, it cannot seamlessly sync my gmail calendar with my Microsoft calendar at work, if it has a mp3 player built in it most likely doesn’t have the memory to make it at all worthwhile, and I guarantee that it doesn’t have an intelligent web browser. What at all does this phone have to offer me?

3. Boasting that the phone is made from recycled water bottles does not excite me, but instead gives me serious reservations as to the reliability of the phone.

4. Zero sex appeal. Let’s be honest, being green is sexy because it’s the IT thing right now. Your SIGG water bottle is durable and prevents you from polluting the environment with plastic bottles. Riding your bike to work reduces your carbon footprint and gives you killer legs. Organic food has less preservatives, pesticides, and other awesome cancer-causing things…and it makes you sound cool when you say you shop at Whole Foods. People like being green because it’s sexy right now. The iPhone and the Storm are sexy; your phone is a chartreuse eyesore that would have been great 7 years ago.

Motorola, if you want to successfully build and market a product that targets Generation-Y, drop $30K on some market research and attempt to understand what your target demographic wants. Don’t simply try and build something you think we’ll like then cram it down our throats. That $30K in research could have saved you the $5M+ it probably took to build the darn thing. But look on the bright side, they will work as great paperweights that you can give to all your employees.

-Josh Groth


WesleyG said...

I agree with everything you said but you know it won't be a complete failure. There are too many people in the world who would buy this simply by knowing it is somewhat environmentally friendly.


Jenna said...

If it was possible for a smart phone, ie: iPhone or Blackberry came out with a "greener" version. I think it would be a big hit. However, struggling companies not so much...

Interesting concept though. Not sure the marketing is right. Can't all the plastic in any phone be made of recycled water bottles?

Josh Groth said...

@Jenna I think you're absolutely right, if a smart phone developer came out with a eco-friendly version of one of their major phones, I think it could be a huge hit. It would be reminiscent of the "Project Red" campaign to raise money for AIDS research, where every manufacture made a red version of their product and donated a portion to the cause. While it was a poorly run non-profit, the items sold quite well.

Jenna said...

I'm actually a really big fan of project (red)...might be because of Converses involvement...but whatever. I'm glad you agree with my comments!

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