"We didn't take it as a negative, but they were literally laughing when they saw the concept," recalled Pierce, Motorola Mobility's director of industrial design for the Moto X, the first flagship phone to come out of the company after it was acquired in 2012 by
Pierce and the designers loved the natural feel of the rounded device, but the engineers saw a guffaw-inducing challenge: How would they fit a multitude of tiny, rectangular components into a curve without wasting space?
As it turned out, overcoming that engineering conundrum for the Moto X set the tone for solving another vexing problem at the stalled technology giant: Jump-starting a creatively inert culture that, through years of painful restructurings and cuts, prioritized cranking out dozens of products to meet nitpicky technical requirements rather than coming up with groundbreaking ideas. In setting out to reclaim Motorola's long-lost position as a dominant player in mobile technology, designers and engineers were given one directive: Think big.
Reshaping a corporate culture, particularly at a company like Motorola with 85 years of history and thousands of employees, isn't done overnight or through a single product launch. Even so, the Moto X marked a turning point for the
"It wasn't like
The burden on the Moto X and its successors is enormous. Motorola, which produced the first commercial portable phone and once had a top-seller with the Razr, is clinging to barely 1 percent of the global smartphone market. The team behind the Moto X wants to show that
"We had the opportunity to create a new story, one that had more mass appeal," said
The Moto X, which was introduced last month and is available at all major carriers, took about a year to develop. Wicks and
The single-minded focus on the Moto X was a sharp contrast from pre-Google Motorola, which made more than 40 phones a year for wireless carriers in different geographies. The pace left little time for thinking holistically about a device or collaborating with colleagues from other teams. Instead, employees were on a treadmill of fulfilling carrier-dictated technical specifications.
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