Buy a Droid X and Kiss Your Life Goodbye

Last Updated Jun 25, 2010 11:19 AM EDT

Could Motorola's Sanjay Jha be world's stupidest CEO? He's certainly in the running.

I just watched a video of Jha running off the list of features in the Droid X. It was truly the worst sales pitch I have ever seen in my entire life. It makes me wonder if this guy has EVER thought about how to sell a high tech product.

In the video, Jha was talking like a motormouth, doing the kind of spray-and-pray "here's every feature on the face of the earth" routine that you'd expect from a geek clerk at a Verizon store, not a supposedly brilliant CEO.

That was bad enough, but then he propelled himself, and the Droid X, into the land of impenetrable stupidity. He started talking about "remote wipe" as if that were something any smartphone buyer wants.

Look, the Droid X is positioned in the market as an iPhone 4 killer. That's why the announcement of the Droid X was timed so that it would steal some thunder from the iPhone 4 availability date.

Not surprisingly, Jha's feature vomit had plenty of stuff that's not in the iPhone 4, but it spent the most time on "remote wipe" -- the ability for your phone carrier to expunge everything -- and I mean everything -- on your smartphone, while it's still sitting in your pocket.
Apparently Jha hasn't figured out that smartphone users store their lives in their phones. It's more than just contacts... it's photos, home video, locations, apps, a record of your call. The idea that all my data could simply be expunged from my phone -- while it's in my pocket is frankly horrifying.

What's to stop the phone company from doing a "remote wipe" if they don't like the content that I'm downloading? Or if I don't pay my bill on time? Or if I dispute a charge?

What to stop the government from doing the same thing, if they decide that people like me are a "threat"? Remember: the carriers have proven repeatedly that they have NO intention whatsoever of standing up to government demands.

More importantly, what's to stop my boss from wiping out all my sales contacts if there's a surprise layoff? Or if he just decides that it's a good idea?

Jha's pitch emphasized that "remote wipe" was a feature that CIOs want. Yeah, I'll bet they do, since plenty of CIOs are control freaks.

But that doesn't mean it's a good idea. And it's just plain STUPID to talk about "remote wipe" when you're trying to get people to buy your phone rather than an iPhone.

UPDATE: It was pointed out in a comment that other cell phones have a "remote wipe" feature. Of course they do. But there's a world of difference selling that as something YOU can do if YOU lose your phone, and trying to sell it as something your CIO can do if HE decides it's a good idea.

The ONLY way to pitch "remote wipe" to consumers -- if you're going to pitch it at all -- is as something that only YOU can control. It should be tied to YOUR password, so that YOU, the consumer, are the only person who can wipe the phone.

(By the way, anybody who doesn't have password control on a phone that has sensitive data on it is a complete idiot. Oh, and if you've got the technology to crack the password, you've probably got the technology to retrieve the wiped memory.)

If Jha were selling to CIOs, it would have been fine talk about how he's empowering them to delete everything remotely on employee's phones. Hell, they'd love that.

But if Droid X were focused on the corporate market, they'd be positioning Droid X as a Blackberry killer not an iPhone 4 killer, because that's where the corporate users are. Jha's pitch was mismatched to the market.

Once again, these are basic marketing concepts which Jha should have mastered. CEOs should at least be able to give a coherent sales pitch that makes sense to the target audience. Jha obviously can't, which is why I think he's a fool.