The Fate of Motorola’s Now-Defunct Moto Q Pro Smartphone (or How Motorola Promised Me a Moto Q Pro for Months and Then Bailed)
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
You’ve no doubt heard of Motorola’s ultra popular Moto Q smartphone. Perhaps you’re also familiar with the handset maker’s Q 9h phone. But did you ever hear of the now-defunct Moto Q Pro, which Motorola released briefly at the start of 2007 only to discontinue production two months later?
After weeks and weeks and bundles of assurances from Motorola that it would be happy to provide CIO.com with Moto Q Pro phones for a review I was putting together, as well as an in-person visit and Q Pro demonstration from a product manager, I was told in April that the device would no longer be available. (And, no, the company wasn’t willing to provide me with a review copy anyway.)
Why should you, the IT executive, care? Assuming you’re not a phone geek like I am and don’t pay much attention to smartphone industry news, you should take note because the Moto Q Pro was an evolution of the Moto Q—a fine, Windows Mobile-based smartphone—and it was aimed specifically at corporate users just like you.
So why would Motorola take the time and effort to develop and test a high-end smartphone, as well as send PR folks around to promote it, and then take the device off the market two months after launch? Well, I’ve spoken with the company on numerous occasions over the past six months, and I’ve gathered bits and pieces of the puzzle. But most of them feel tainted with public relations spin, and I don’t think I’m getting “the whole story.”
That’s where you come in. I’m hoping this blog post will reach some folks who have experience with the Moto Q Pro. It was on sale in the United States for almost two months, so perhaps you or someone you know purchased one. Maybe your enterprise had planned to deploy the phones, and you were in talks with Motorola. If so, please tell me about it. When I found out that the Moto Q Pro was no more, I asked the company how many units they’d sold and whether or not they were still supporting them but these were two questions they chose to ignore. If you can answer them, or any of the others mentioned in this post, I’d be much obliged if you’d share with me and my readers.
What follows is an account of my experience trying to obtain the Moto Q Pro mobile phones, as well a number of responses from Motorola that I received over the past half year regarding the discontinued Moto Q Pro:
This story begins last fall when rumors surrounding a Moto Q smartphone aimed at business users began surfacing on websites like EverythingQ.com and TheUnwired.net. At this time, the smartphone space was still all abuzz over the standard Moto Q, and the idea of a Q phone meant for businesspeople had me curious to say the least—after all, CIOs, my readers, are the users Motorola was targeting with such a device. As mentioned above, I had been thinking about doing a smartphone review in conjunction with a handful of CIOs, and the Moto Q Pro seemed like it could be a perfect fit.
Shortly thereafter, in early January, Motorola officially announced the Moto Q Pro, touting its improvements over the standard Q, including enhanced security software, extended battery life, document editing capabilities, direct shipment services, enterprise call center support, and remote data wipe and camera disablement capabilities. Oh yeah, and it came in a nifty black casing with a blue Motorola logo—much cooler than the boring old gray Q.
So I reached out to Motorola and requested review units. The handset maker’s PR team got back to me promptly and assured me that it would be glad to work with me on my review. That was the second week of January.
Over the next three weeks, my request was passed from one Motorola PR flack to another, and each responded with their own assurances that they were working on getting the phones. Then I was contacted by yet another PR rep, this time a woman who’d come to Motorola from the acquisition of Symbol Technologies. She explained that both companies’ PR departments were being reorganized. This was the first time that I connected the delay in getting my review copies with the Symbol deal. Motorola’s Symbol acquisition was initially announced in September of 2006 and was completed just one day after Motorola launched the Moto Q Pro.
By that time, I was frustrated with the whole charade. I’d already obtained review units of four other phones from Motorola’s rival handset makers and had sent most of them out to my CIO reviewers so we could get started on the business-savvy smartphone review. I tried everything to speed up the process, and I thought I made some progress when I was assured that the phones would be going out within the next few days. But at the end of the first week in February, I still had no Moto Q Pro phones. And the Motorola PR person I was nagging every day had started to cite “availability issues.”
The following Monday, Motorola offered to deliver the phones to me during an in-person demonstration with a Moto Q Pro product manager. At that point, all I wanted was the *@#*@$ phones I’d requested, but I was willing to do whatever it took to get my hands on the Moto Q Pros.
Jason Pelski, then product manager of the MotoPro Product Group, and a PR representative showed up at my office a few days later with smiles, some product literature, and no phones. But, Pelski said, I could expect them in the coming week.
I was impressed with the demo; the Moto Q Pro was as cool as I’d expected it to be, at least on first inspection. Which made it that much harder when a few weeks later, I was dealt the next blow—an e-mail from the same PR rep in late February:
“Hi Al- I am so sorry for this ongoing issue with getting you a product. As you know, I just jumped into this when the Symbol acquisition occurred and am trying to navigate the waters. It appears that we are still running into availability issues — despite that I thought you could get a product on Monday. I think we might have to pass on this review opportunity, as I really can’t provide a solid date for availability.”
By this point, I had to move forward on my review without the Moto Q Pro but I continued checking in with Motorola every couple of weeks.
In early April, I received the following response to one of my repeated inquires:
“Hello- Sorry I didn’t reply yesterday, I was working on getting a better understanding of the fate of the Motorola Q Pro. Turns out that with the recent integration with Symbol, the Q Pro will no longer be available.”
Recently, I reached out to the PR rep again and requested more information on the fate of the Moto Q Pro. I wanted to know how long it had been on the market, how many devices had been sold to consumers and to enterprises and if those phones were still being supported by Motorola. I also wanted to know if the Q Pro had been rebranded as the Q9 or if that was a different device altogether. Interestingly, Motorola still has a Web page for the Moto Q Pro that doesn’t mention it’s no longer available—in fact, it still includes ordering information.
What I got was more or less the same information I’d received months before with a bit more detail on the time period the Q Pro was on the market. The message is as follows:
“The Q Pro was introduced in January of . Shortly after (end of Feb/early March) we were notified that it would no longer be available. The Q Pro originally was planned as Motorola’s entry into the Mobile Office/Email space. In reviewing our newly expanded portfolio of enterprise products, we have determined other existing or future products address this segment equally well. Now, with Motorola’s broad ecosystem of applications, partners and channels that support our line of Windows Mobile devices we can truly put enterprise mobility in the palm of your hand. That being said, the Q Pro has not been rebranded as another phone. ”
This was all the information the PR person could provide; she then referred me to a spokesperson who could supposedly share more, Chuck Kaiser, Motorola’s director of external relations, but proved to be less than helpful. Here’s his response to my questions:
“Motorola’s Symbol acquisition prompted a thorough review of all Motorola mobility offerings. A review of all solution roadmaps led to rationalization of Q PRO and MOTOPRO. However, offerings inherited through the acquisition such as the MC 35, which employs much of the functionality that Q Pro intended, do live on. Also, Motorola’s Mobility Suite software is being updated to reflect the combined offerings of Symbol, Good and Motorola. Comments attributable to Tim Mason. Sr Director of Marketing, Enterprise Mobility Business.”
I received that response on July 19, and so this part of the story comes to an end. But I’m hoping one of you can pick it up from here. Do any of you have Moto Q Pro phones? If so, when and where did you buy them? Did you purchase the phone for personal use or was it issued to you by your organization?
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.