Motorola and me
In the beginning, everyone laughed at me when, still a student in 2003, I tried to get permission to visit the representatives of Motorola in the Czech Republic. A year later, I had already completed two interviews with the company’s reps, made a report from their authorized service & repair center, and began to regularly receive Motorola cellphones for testing. Looking back on it, I view it as a combination of intuition, desire, stubbornness, chance, luck, and the desire to try to do things differently.
The position of Motorola in the Czech Republic
Motorola cellphones weren’t exactly hot sellers on the market after the year 2000. In terms of selection and easy access to services and repairs, Nokia dominated. Motorola was more of an outsider in the country.
With only a few exceptions, Motorola mobile phones didn’t have much to offer against their competition. However, the real domain of the higher-scale models was their interesting and high-quality design. Motorola cellphones also generally stood out for their high level of reliability.
What’s more, mobile operators in the country often gave Motorola a bad name by offering the simplest phones the company had to offer, which were less than user-friendly compared to other makers.
Unfortunately due to after-sales services in comparison to other brands and the poor availability of accessories, Motorola cellphones suffered from the speedy fall in phone prices and didn’t have the best reputation.
How it all began
Used Motorola phones weren’t in high demand, but they were cheap. As a student, price came first, and at during the year 2003 I became the proud owner of a used Motorola Timeport 250. I began to realize that Motorolas weren’t as bad as people said they were. They were just different and I found it was useful to read the manual. Sometimes I also had to find out some information that wasn’t in the manual.
In 2003, as a student of a secondary technical school of electrical engineering in the Karlovy Vary Region, I attempted to carry out my obligatory 14-day internship with the Czech office of Motorola in Prague. As students, we lived and breathed mobile phones and the prospect of an internship in Prague was more attractive to me than the other normal internships assembling wiring systems somewhere in a factory. My idea to write the Czech representation of the company was bold, and had a minimal chance of success, but I tried it.
I received a negative reply with an explanation for the refusal, but I didn’t give up. I decided to start a simple web page and wrote a few tips there about Motorola phones, as there wasn’t much information about them at the time.
A few months later I wrote another letter to the Czech office of the company and asked for some advertising material and promotional models of the phones.
After I received a package full of advertising brochures and a demo CD of the new telephones they were preparing for the autumn of 2003, I had the feeling that the new Motorola V300, V500, and V600 phones would have more to offer and that the company would begin to grow.
To my great surprise, my sister confirmed this fact unexpectedly a few months later. She worked in a mobile phone store and was a staunch Nokia user; she only talked about Motorolas in the worst of terms. When the V300 came out and she saw it in a T-Mobile outlet, she bought it the same day and never went back to Nokia.
My first internet domain – dry bread and salami for lunch
The world of the internet fascinated me and I decided to buy a my very first web domain address, Motorola-online.com. Domains with a .CZ ending were much more expensive at the time. The funny part of the story is that the yearly fee for the domain wasn’t exactly cheap, as I was still a student, and I saved up money by skipping my hot lunches. The first webhosting was free, but later I had to begin to pay for it. After addressing a number of Czech webhosting providers, I was able to pay for it from another sponsor company. The website itself used free CMS phpRS and the logo for the website was created by a graphic designer from an affiliated website.
The Motorola-online.com / MojeMotorola.cz server (2003 – 2005)
In the beginning, the site included Czech-language manuals for telephones, information on accessories, and news about upcoming models. After my visit to the Czech office of Motorola in January 2004, the content was upgraded. I carried out an interview with the business manager of Czech Motorola and began to visit the authorized service & repair centers. Later, I began to receive Motorolas for long-term testing from the company, was invited to press conferences, etc. The main content came to include telephone reviews and results of long-term testing.
The number of visitors quickly grew and MojeMotorola.cz became the place for Motorola users to gather. Written articles were available and there was also a discussion forum with thousands of discussion threads.
In 2005, I came up with the idea to organize an unofficial gathering of Motorola users and fans in Prague under the MojeMotorola website. Dozens of visitors attended. The event included a display and lecture of upcoming phones by the business manager of the Czech Motorola office. There was also a competition for small prizes in the form of a trivia quiz. Various accessories for the phones were also displayed.
No new articles came out after 2006 (I began to work for shop.Motorola.cz), but the forum remained in operation for a number of years. The poor availability of Motorola phones in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the following years and the subsequent abandonment of the Czech office at the end of 2008 led to a large decrease in the number of visitors and interest in Motorola phones.
I took care of all the web content and advertisements to cover costs linked to operating MojeMotorola.cz and other technical details myself. Several users also helped moderate the discussion forum.
From 2008, webhosting was provided by sponsorship from Ignum.cz. Later, I provided for the webhosting with my own funds. The Czech Motorola office never interfered in the operation of the website, nor did it share in it in any way.
Who were the visitors to the MojeMotorola.cz website?
These were users, people interested in buying new Motorola phone models, or sometimes the dealers themselves. The largest group logically came from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but from time to time visitors from Poland and other Western European countries joined in.
This was made possible also thanks to the fact that the MojeMotorola.cz website placed at the top of search engines when searching for common phrases. It’s hard to say whether one website was truly so much better than the other, but, for example, if you entered “Motorola CR” or other such phrases into the search engine, there was quite a good chance you’d find MojeMotorola.cz on the first place and the official website somewhere below it.
Site MojeMotorola.cz in pictures
Mobil.iDnes.cz (2004 – 2005)
During the summer of 2004 I was approached by the Mlada Fronta Dnes media group and, during a meeting in Prague, we agreed to cooperate on writing articles about Motorola cellphones. I started writing articles for both my own website and for the Mladá Fronta newspaper. After a while, I recieved an offer through the Czech Motorola office for possible cooperation in building and administering the official Czech Motorola Shop for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. I took the offer and terminated all my other activities.
The official Motorola Shop (shop.Motorola.cz) – 2006
I provided the technical support for users on the site, helped with product descriptions and benchmarks, set up the recommended prices and travelled from time to time to Motorola’s Czech office to deal with campaigns. I also helped implement changes that led to the improvement of the shop’s position on search engines.
In the beginning, no one took me seriously. As a student from Karlovy Vary with no previous knowledge or contacts, I didn’t have the best prerequisites for entering the field of Motorola telephones. However, a year later, I began to receive telephones from the Czech office of Motorola, began to attend press conferences, and started to receive offers to other events.
I terminated my activities surrounding Motorola telephones for educational and other reasons between the years 2006 and 2007.
At the end of 2008, the Czech office of Motorola phones was closed …
Thanks to this and other experience, I also learned to create and administer more extensive websites, and I ended up as a student who was able to give advice to local companies concerning their websites. On top of that, I gained experience from press conferences in the role of both visitor and organizer, and I generally absorbed the whole atmosphere and environment.
Memories of Motorola in May 2014
As certain circumstances came together, I decided to organize a lecture at my own expense on the history of the Motorola Company. I had already learned earlier that the American company Motorola had worked in many different fields of technology than just the walkie-talkies and mobile phones that we knew in the Czech Republic. Through its products, Motorola made its permanent mark on history as a company of innovations. The first globally and commercially available telephone was made by the Motorola Company, and the history of the company contains many more such milestones.
A number of Czech collectors lent their Motorola phones to the lecture, which also included contemporary Motorola Solutions products. A security agency was hired to overlook the event and hostesses cared for the guests. Small promotional products were provided by the still-existing Motorola Solutions office. One of the products on display was the first type of satellite telephone for the Iridium network, which was borrowed from a Czech dealer. The event took place in the Museum of West Bohemia in Pilsen and drew dozens of visitors.
Valuable resources for the lecture were the books The founder’s touch, The idea of ideas, Critical connection: The Motorola Service Station Story, A personal journal: 50 years at Motorola, and other materials and official sources available on the internet.
During the lecture, I was able to meet the readers of my various articles ten whole years after they were published, and we looked back with a certain degree of nostalgia at the times that had passed. Some of the visitors still have their Motorolas stowed away and wouldn’t replace them for the world…
Some quick facts
- No. of displayed items: hundreds
- Estimated worth of displayed items: ~ $20,000
- Hostesses: 1
- Security guards: 3
- Collectors: 6