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Summary:

Motorola will soon lay off as much as 50 percent of its handset division, according to mobile industry blog, PhoneScoop, citing an unnamed source said to be familiar with Motorola’s plans. The post also claims that Motorola will skip the CTIA Wireless trade show in April, […]

motorolaqMotorola will soon lay off as much as 50 percent of its handset division, according to mobile industry blog, PhoneScoop, citing an unnamed source said to be familiar with Motorola’s plans. The post also claims that Motorola will skip the CTIA Wireless trade show in April, and will slash the number of new phones it releases this year down to a dozen. And going forward, at least according to PhoneScoop, the company will only make Google Android-based smartphones. (Microsoft has already removed Motorola from the list of Windows Mobile smart phones on its website.)

“We don’t comment on rumors,” a Motorola spokesperson said when questioned about the veracity of this information. A quick glance at the track record of Motorola’s money-losing handset division over the past two years will show, however, that it’s in dire need of some sort of resuscitation.

But while Nokia, Samsung and LG are poised to benefit from a decision by Motorola to limit its offerings, such a move to bet solely on Android would not be so good for Microsoft and its Windows Mobile OS. Last year, I pointed out that Andorid was going to become a thorn in Microsoft’s side and would cause more problems for Windows Mobile than it would impact other smartphone vendors. To date, Motorola, Samsung and HTC have been the three major vendors pushing Windows Mobile smartphones, so Motorola’s withdrawal is likely to be acutely felt in Redmond. HTC, another Microsoft loyalist has planned quite a few new Android-based phones for 2009, ones that are being welcomes by phone companies as well.

Then again, maybe Microsoft already knows about Motorola’s rumored plans. If so, it would lend weight to the software company’s recent (grandiose) claim that it wants to limit the number of vendors to whom it licenses its operating system. “I’d rather have fewer devices and be more focused,” Todd Peters, V-P of marketing for the Windows Mobile division, told The New York Times, because it allows phone makers to get better “integration” between the phone and the operating system. Sort of like RIM and the iPhone, I guess. Microsoft will make some sort of a major announcement in Barcelona next month. The word on the street is that they will be showing off Windows Mobile 7.0.

  1. Motorola needs to release Android handsets ASAP to:
    1. establish themselves as a leading Android handset provider.
    2. generate quick sales/revenue from the pent-up demand for Android devices.

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  2. It wouldnt be too suprising if they drop their Windows Mobile phones. Ballmer made comments at CES saying they are going to be restricting/cutting a number of manufacturers of WinMo devices citing the need to work more closely with device mfgr’s to provide a better end to end user experience.

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  3. “…To date, Motorola, Samsung and HTC have been the three major vendors pushing Windows Mobile smartphones, so Motorola’s withdrawal is likely to be acutely felt in Redmond. HTC, another Microsoft loyalist has planned quite a few new Android-based phones for 2009, ones that are being welcomes by phone companies as well.”

    Windows mobile’s outrageous licensing costs and quagmire signing policies ( per handset no less ) are the &REAL* problem, Android is just providing a zero overhead cost solution. In this era of corporate belt tightenting, I bet the account departments are taking a good, hard look at why they pay Microsoft a dollar per handset for the privilage of installing Windows mobile when Android has no such costs. Saving a few million dollars per quarter, passing that savings onto the stock holders with just a few clicks of the backspace key? Oh yes!

    Plus having Windows mobile usurped by Android, regulating it to a tiny niche market helps us long suffering app developers – Android is truly write one app for all handsets ( and MIDs and tablets and netbooks, on and on ! ).

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  4. I have several friends who are already predicting Motorola will fold or greatly downsize within the next 5 years, and it looks like its right on course to do just that.

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  5. Motorola has never been truly excellent at anything but RF circuitry. Every few years that expertise lets them make a smaller handset or an early entrant on a new wireless standard. Their phones have never been anything special to use and they don’t know the first thing about making good software. The iPhone has set a bar they simply cannot reach without outside help. WinMobile and Symbian don’t have enough market share to bet the company on. Linux looks like the obvious choice, but some generic build won’t cut it without developer support and an App Store. By partnering with Google they get a huge pile of money driving app development. It all makes sense, but how many Android handsets do you need to ship at one time? iPhone-like, Blackberry-like, Sidekick-like, flip phone, candybar. Camera model and music model. It doesn’t make sense to have dozens of models when they all run the same software.

    Microsoft still has Samsung, LG, and HTC, which is probably plenty. Microsoft doesn’t let handset vendors mess around with the software, so there’s not much point in having lots of vendors if they can only innovate on the mechanical design. There’s nothing stopping Microsoft from hiring a good industrial design firm to wrap a shell around an HTC hardware design and selling it under their own name.

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  6. It is inevitable that Android will become the leading mobile operating system.
    I mean, Apple will also be a significant player, but everyone else will have to move to Android.
    I will bet Nokia will come up with an android phone not more then 2 years from now. They have such fanstastic capabilites, but the “ancient” Symbian OS just does not stand a chance.

    Motorola CEO has probably made the best decision he could take. I hope to see some very good cellular phones from Motorola soon and hopeful that they will become again a top tier handset manufacturer.

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  7. @Rob: Recall that the iPhone is based on a variant of OS X which is based on the very “ancient” Unix BSD.

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  8. Got feel for the poor employees at MSFT. The Q9x was one of the “work” phones besides the BlackJack series that they could carry. I have a inlaw that is a director at MSFT and said she would have been shot if you showed up to work with a RIM device, though I am sure some there have iPhones.

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  9. From article: (Microsoft has already removed Motorola from the list of Windows Mobile smart phones on its website.)

    I just do quick search on Microsoft site
    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/en-us/devices/smartphones.mspx?13=&14=16&36=1
    There are a lot of Motorola phones

    So it means author of this article just retold some rumors and add some lie :(

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