If you're ever in the mood to think about a "how the mighty have fallen" story, you need to look no further than Motorola. The company used to be at the forefront of technology in everything digital, but buyouts, restructuring, and eventually becoming another OEM nameplate has left Motorola little more than a memory that old tech dudes like me will fondly look back with melancholy reflections of the good old days. If I sound bitter, it's because I am, just a little.
Motorola invented the cellphone and a lot of the parts that go inside one, too.
Where we are today with Motorola as an Android vendor has a particularly interesting story, too. The company was a pioneer of Android, releasing what many call Android's pivot point with the Motorola Droid/Milestone. While not a compelling device by today's standards, it was the first Android phone that fused state of the art specs and a massive marketing campaign to launch it into millions of pockets. Partnering with Verizon as an alternative to Apple's iPhone probably didn't hurt either.
As the Motorola name fell out of fashion — mostly because Samsung learned how to make amazing phones and work with carriers, too — the company fell on hard times and the hardware division was scooped up by Google itself. We enjoyed several years of phones built by people who knew how to make hardware and software for them, then Google decided to sell off the "phone" side of Motorola to Lenovo. By then, however, the company's phone business was little more than a name and a handful of design patents.
Lenovo is not a small fly-by-night company that has no clue when it comes to making top-notch electronics. The company acquired the rights to build ThinkPad laptops from IBM and has continued the success of the brand while also expanding it away from just very expensive machines designed for true road warriors. Many — myself included — had high hopes for Motorola under Lenovo's care. Most of those who held those hopes have been disappointed time and time again. Again, myself included.
Everyone has their own tipping point, and mine in regard to Motorola was when the company announced that the previously announced Android 9 update for the Moto Z2 Force would only apply to the Verizon version:
Delivering any Android upgrade is a complex process. For a variety of reasons, some US Moto Z2 Force models will not receive the Android 9 "Pie" update. The Moto Z2 Force model sold by Verizon will receive Pie as it is necessary to enable the 5G Moto Mod. We are committed to providing two years of Android security updates on all Moto Z2 force devices. While we always caution that our update plans may change, Motorola regrets any inconvenience or disappointment this may cause our loyal consumers.
It almost feels like Motorola is only going to update phones so it can make money selling 5G Moto Mods to Verizon, and as a customer, your experience means next to nothing.
The only way Z2 Force customers were ever going to see some critical security patches was with a Pie update.
The company has had a very poor record regarding updates since it was sold to Lenovo; both the big grand Android platform updates and the important but overlooked security patch updates. This compounds the whole issue, as the only realistic chance Z2 Force owners have to get those critically important updates they have missed is when they are bundled into the Android 9 release. These patches have no glitz or glamour associated, but they are the types of updates that keep you and your personal information safer. I've mentioned it before and I'll say it again: manufacturers owe us security patches on a regular basis if they expect us to owe them our allegiance.
If a company can't deliver in a timely manner, then it needs to deliver on a schedule it can adhere to. The important part is that it delivers at all, and since Motorola has decided not to do so I've decided to tell anyone who asks that they shouldn't buy a Motorola phone.
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