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Motorola's design lead Jim Wicks departs after 15 years

Motorola's senior vice president of consumer experience design, Jim Wicks, has departed the company to join the faculty at Northwestern University. Wicks had been with Motorola for 15 years and was its head of design for the past 12 years.

Wicks' departure comes just a couple of weeks after Motorola's parent company Lenovo announced the division's latest smartphone, the Moto Z. Wicks joined Motorola in 2001 and helped to create some of the company's best selling mobile phones, including the Razr and Droid smartphones.

Crain's Chicago Business got a statement from Motorola about Wicks' decision:

"We greatly appreciate Jim's contributions in leading a consumer experience design team that delivered standout, iconic, and award-winning industrial design and user experiences for Moto's mobile and wearable products," said Aymar de Lencquesaing, chairman of Motorola Mobility and co-president of Lenovo's mobile business group. "We wish Jim well as he enters this new phase in his career.

Wicks will be on the faculty at the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern starting in July. Ruben Castano, who has been with Motorola since 2005, will take over as design leader. Earlier this year, Motorola president Rick Osterloh left the company to become the head of Google's hardware projects.

Read our interview with Wicks

We caught up with Jim Wicks in 2015 as part of our Android History project. He led us through the major transformation we'd seen in Motorola, as well as in Android itself. He talked about the transition from an independent company to being under Google, and then later as the company became part of Lenovo.

Read the full interview

37 Comments
  • One of the most revolutionary designs was announced just a few weeks ago, one that is very intriguing. (Moto Z) And then he leaves. Kind of strange. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Probably because everyone was bashing it. Posted via HTC 10
  • It's not even just that, it just won't sell. Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Because the previous Moto Xs set record sales, right?
  • You can say that about any phone, Samsung and Apple have the market covered. Unfortunately, sheep on both sides. Posted from Nexus 6
  • Maybe if Moto advertised once in a while. People just don't know about it. Moto X 2013 was a great phone.. They dropped the ball going 5.2" in 2014 and then really dropped it going to 5.7" and no amoled. I think that killed it. 5.0" Amoled is the sweet spot.
  • And that's not changing this year no one will know about it except us and the blogs it's as simple as that. Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I think you are reinforcing my point bud. Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • No. Announcing it then selling it months later will kill it, especially since it will be launched right around the next note and iphone. No OEM other than Samsung has even been able to try and combat the iphone in terms of sales and they still pale in comparison. If they had announced it and launched it right away (or within 2-3 weeks) I think they had the potential to be a decent seller. 
  • DING DING DING Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Agreed Prem... announcing too early killed the Xperia..... and then failing to deliver the promised goods really killed it.
  • No that would be the moto G. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No that would be the moto G. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It is an ugly phone you all have to admit.
  • It's not the best looking phone, but it looks alright with those Moto wood backs. Posted via HTC 10
  • But you have to buy them Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • And you have to buy those modules to get basic functionality found in other phones without paying extra money. I'm done with any future Moto devices, and I suspect that the rest of the market will be done with Moto as well. "Goodbye Moto" is what we'll be hearing in a couple years when the brand is discontinued. Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via the Android Central App
  • No kidding the market looks bleak for anyone other than Samsung and apple now Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I used to think it was ugly too, then i changed opinion after looking at the diferent backs, the black with gold sides looks pretty nice, the only thing about that phone I don't like is the lack of headphone, but other than that, moto did what EVERY phone company has been repeatedly saying and saying on their commercial: they innovated. It's different, in a good way. And, sadly, everything thatguy97 and Erik johnson3 said on their comments is 100% true. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I would guess that he had wanted to leave for a while, but just decided to put in the work to push one last major product to market. This seems like a pretty reasonable time for a design person to leave, really. Posted via the Android Central App
  • First sensible reply in this whole thread...the hate is strong... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Hate for a product and marketing not a man. Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Interesting. He did a great job 3 years ago and it has been downhill ever since. This year it is one of the most ugly smart phones I have ever seen.
  • Samsung just nailed it this year man. It's really that simple they didn't try module crap they just reiterated on their previous design and rolled with it. Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Design-wise, I think the Z looks really damn nice. I'm concerned about performance, but I think they're really attractive phones. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I like the back's design too. The front looks weird with the square sensor. Also, why would you be concerned with performance when there's SD820 and 4GB RAM?
  • He'll be hired by Google in two weeks
  • "Wicks will be on the faculty at the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern starting in July."
  • His final quote when leaving the building was "Goodbye, Moto".
  • Then "Howdy NoWe".
  • Good... Sorry Jimbo but 5.5 = fail! Bring on the next 5.0" designer and lets party!
  • Nope.
  • I think he wanted to mess up Lenovo with the latest design before leaving the company lol Posted via the Android Central App on Moto G3 16/2 on $35 Cricket wireless plan.
  • lol
  • I'll say this. The front of the white colored Moto Z looks really goofy R.I.P GPe program
  • That's been the case with white Moto X models, too. Those IR sensors are pretty innocuous on the black models, but they stand out like a sore thumb on the white face. I don't mind the square fingerprint sensor as much as everyone else seems to, though. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Good for him.