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Google's Moto X Builds Global Buzz for a Phone Only Coming to America

Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility Moto X phones are displayed during a launch event in New York, on Aug. 1, 2013. Close

Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility Moto X phones are displayed during a launch event in... Read More

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Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility Moto X phones are displayed during a launch event in New York, on Aug. 1, 2013.

Google learned the downside of an international media blitz last week when gadget fans in Europe and Asia discovered that the much-hyped Moto X phone will only be available in America. Spokespeople for Google's Motorola Mobility in Europe and Asia said after the announcement that the company doesn't plan to release the Moto X in those regions.

"Moto X is just the first device in a new portfolio of products that show the best of Motorola as a Google company," Kevin Si, a Motorola spokesman in Asia, wrote in an e-mail. "We have exciting plans for all regions, although we can’t reveal specifics right now. This is just the start."

Motorola mixed a similar cocktail of disappointment and vague optimism in a statement published last week by the blog Pocket-lint. Reader reactions ranged from high-brow finger-wagging ("That's a global PR disaster") to the typical Internet-comments fare ("Screw Motorola").

They probably should have suspected something was up when Motorola kicked off the marketing cycle for Moto X with a patriotic made-in-the-USA message. Assembling the phones in Texas will help speed up AT&T's color-customization option, but it wouldn't make as much sense if Motorola had to ship those made-to-order products all the way to Europe or Asia.

Apple and Samsung Electronics have practically mastered the art of throwing mega events for product announcements that capture international headlines. Samsung's Galaxy S4 launch in May took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York, which was simultaneously being broadcast in Times Square.

Google, which makes the world's most popular smartphone operating system Android, demonstrated that it can put on the same sort of spectacle. Among the news outlets that covered the Moto X last week, the U.K.'s Guardian and Telegraph ran stories, as did the Times of India. Apple and Samsung usually follow up their events with a prompt product rollout in several major markets around the world.

Instead of getting thousands of customers ready to line up outside Carphone Warehouse to buy the Moto X, Motorola got a bunch of angry comments. That's what happens when you build a metric ton of hype for a phone that most of the world won't be able to get.

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