Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Verge’s Moto 360 Feature

I find this feature really interesting, for a number of reasons. Chiefly, though, my interest lies in Motorola and Google’s marketing strategy around this watch.

Let’s get something out of the way real quick: while Chris Ziegler tried to get more information on the so-far largely-hypothetical Moto 360, he was unsuccessful:

As we chat, he’s “dogfooding” a beautiful 360 on his wrist in steel with a tan leather band, but declines to show it to me (after my desperate final attempt to get an up-close look, he hurriedly shuffled away). […] And although he wouldn’t let me play with it, the display turned on a couple times while we were chatting; it looked bright and crisp, the Android Wear UI simple and purposeful.

This is only slightly more information than was gleaned from Joshua Topolsky’s “Fireside Chat” with Matias Duarte: that is, still almost nothing. No real information.

This is a pretty strange promotional strategy. Companies these days often seem to be emulating Apple-level secrecy — to only show the product when it’s done, or very nearly so. Of course, this doesn’t always pan out, and leaks do happen, but it’s a strategy that can work very well.

Other companies prefer to develop in the open, by releasing glimpses of what they’re working on in various stages of functionality — consider the number of semi-open “beta” programs. Or, they may choose to use a combination of secrecy and openness: when Microsoft released the Surface 2, they also allowed some journalists access to their design studios to see the work that went into it.

By contrast, Motorola is showing pretty much every stage of the development of this smartwatch except the actual product. The Verge famously has some pretty great Google contacts, so it’s no surprise that they were granted a high level of access not once, but twice, this far into the Moto 360’s development.

I’m intrigued by this strange teaser marketing strategy. It’s apparently working for someone like me, who reads TechMeme and the Verge and so on. And, surely, the first real glimpse Muggles will get of the 360 will be at its grand unveiling. By that point, though, I guess we’ll know better whether this category is the next smartphone — as Ziegler seems to think it is — or the next iPod. Or perhaps it’s a category that’s being shoehorned into existence.