Ed Zander’s trial by fire?

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The New York Times has a careful assessment of what lies ahead for Ed Zander, the incoming chief executive officer of Motorola, the troubled cell phone maker that seems to have lost its way in recent times. It is interesting collection of opinions from management experts, professors, and Wall Street pundits. While each one has a quip or two to offer, what is remarkable is that none of them have a prescription of what Motorola needs to do.

Zander, on his part is going to face a very tough time. For instance, he does not have the luxury of a big boom, which had helped him sell a lot of servers for Sun. Motorola is facing competition from the low cost cellphone makers in China, which was once Motorola’s biggest revenue generator. Samsung and LG, not to mention dozen odd Japanese players are nipping at company’s heels.

But the biggest pressure for Zander will come from Wall Street. These are the same morons who lauded Michael Armstrong (ex-ATT) to pursue the dream of convergence, and then 12 months later changed their minds. Zander, who is known to give too much heed to the Wall Street herd, is likely to fall prey to the stock market demands. He should try and avoid that!

bq. Mr. Zander may also get some breathing room because Motorola announced in October that it would spin off its semiconductor operations by the end of 2004. That divestment, which has long been pushed by Wall Street, is expected to go a long way toward focusing the company more clearly on its core communications markets. But semiconductor analysts say Mr. Zander will have to devote considerable time to working out the financial details and figuring out how to split up the intellectual property involved.

bq. Some analysts have also advocated that Motorola should sell off the broadband equipment business it acquired when it bought General Instrument in 2000 and leave the highly competitive market for telecommunications networking equipment.

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