Is Motorola Finally Dying?

5:50 PM -- Motorola Mobility LLC appears to be teetering on the verge of extinction once again.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s announcement this week that it will cut 4,000 jobs at the company it bought a year ago is just the latest signal of the end. (See Google to Cut 4,000 Motorola Jobs.)

Ever since Google struck the $12.5 billion deal to buy Motorola Mobility on Aug. 15, 2011, questions have been raised about what it was getting. Google was very clear that it was buying patents, but it also said it would continue to run Motorola as a separate business to help it "supercharge the Android ecosystem."

So far, however, this just doesn't seem to be happening. Samsung Corp. is getting lauded for its Android smartphones while Google went off and worked with AsusTek Computer Inc. to develop its own-brand Nexus 7 tablet. Hardly a ringing endorsement of Motorola there, Google.

In truth, though, the end of Motorola has been in sight for a long time now. The company simply hasn't managed to have a big hit in the marketplace since the RAZR. Remember that?

Here, let me refresh your memory: The Motorola RAZR came out in the fall of 2004. Motorola sold more than 100 million of these clam-shell phones, but it was basically all over by the beginning of 2007. That's more than five years ago now, a lifetime in cellphone terms.

The problem for Motorola is that it hasn't come out with a device with anything like the success of the RAZR, and it was blind-sided by the advent of the iPhone and tablet computers. Even a reboot of the RAZR brand in 2011 didn't help. (See Photos: Moto Gets Skinny With 4G RAZR and Moto Needs the RAZR to Burn.)

In fact, here at LR Mobile we've been trying to figure out what Moto could do next -- since 2007.

But, like Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and BlackBerry , Motorola is looking like a former giant of the mobile industry that is now running out of time.

There might be some lessons for Google in that, too.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

trygve erickson 12/5/2012 | 5:23:53 PM
re: Is Motorola Finally Dying?

Let's not forget that M. Mobility is not really the Motorola us old time RF folks know.  That company is Motorola Solutions and they never left the land mobile radio space that made the company it's initial fame.  Their financials remain outstanding with margins of nearly 30%  not uncommon.

Duh! 12/5/2012 | 5:23:53 PM
re: Is Motorola Finally Dying?

Someday, the history of Motorola will be a B-school case study on how to take a great company with a strong global brand, talented people, and a huge available market, and fly it into the ground.

mp2010 12/5/2012 | 5:23:52 PM
re: Is Motorola Finally Dying?

The real DNA of Motorola is still alive and kicking. It is called Motorola Solutions. The cell phone business was spun off from the rest of Motorola in the 1990s, I think. They should just rename Motorola Solutions to Motorola.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:23:48 PM
re: Is Motorola Finally Dying?

1.Did you miss the part where it says "Motorola Mobility" at the beginning of the first paragraph?


2. This is a blog, I'm asking a question and looking back over recent history, not reporting anything new.


3. This site is called Light Reading MOBILE, what part of Motorola did you expect us to be dealing with?



duettorogers 12/5/2012 | 5:23:48 PM
re: Is Motorola Finally Dying?

Really sloppy reporting when you lump the entire Motorola brand, both Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions into a story just about the Cell Phone business.  You need to go back to journalism school or at least learn how to properly define your subject so you don't mislead your public. 

duettorogers 12/5/2012 | 5:23:46 PM
re: Is Motorola Finally Dying?

Pardon me, I did not mean to offend.  I did read Motorola Mobility which of course encompasses much more than phones so was still left with the feeling that you were lumping in a lot of people that are not necessarily part of a dying organization.  The Home division may be for sale but I have been under the impression that they were a going concern.

By the way since you are listed as an editor how do I know when you are Reporting, Editorializing or Blogging?  Having been a part of Motorola it is sometime painful to see shots taken at parts of the organization without specifying specifically what one is talking about.  I get your comments but still think the good folks at other parts of the organization deserve better from LR.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:23:46 PM
re: Is Motorola Finally Dying?

It was much more recent.




On March 26, 2008, Motorola's board of directors approved a split into two different publicly traded companies. This came after talk of selling the handset division to another corporation. These new companies would comprise the business units of the current Motorola Mobile Devices and Motorola Broadband & Mobility Solutions. Originally it was expected that this action would be approved by regulatory bodies and complete by mid-2009, but the split was delayed due to company restructuring problems and the 2008–2009 extreme economic downturn.[36]


On February 11, 2010, Motorola announced its separation into two independent, publicly traded companies,[37] effective Q1 2011. The official split occurred at around 12:00 pm EST on January 4, 2011. The two new companies are called Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI; cell phone and cable television equipment company) and Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI; Government and Enterprise Business). Motorola Solutions is generally considered to be the direct successor to Motorola, Inc., as the reorganization was structured with Motorola Mobility being spunoff.[7]"

fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 5:23:41 PM
re: Is Motorola Finally Dying?

The cell phone industry has been suffering a bad case of poison apples.  Once Apple came out with hte iPhone, everyone else went into a panic. Sure, the iPhone is a huge hit.  But it's an Apple.  That carries immense brand equity.  It is a designer label, with a whole ecosystem of retailers, developers and fanbois surrounding it.

So what did Moto do?  They teamed up with Google to do Android, and built phones that in large part were modeled after Apple's.  But of course knockoffs of a designer brand don't get designer prices.  Android has some technical advantages compared to IOS, and some disadvantages, but those hardly matter.  It's clearly meant to be like an iPhone, for all the vendors not named Apple, and Moto is at the center of that camp, and was even before Google bought them.

What the market could use are some original phones.  I like clamshells myself, and truly and deeply detest touch screens.  If I had an iPhone I might use it to shim up a loose chair or something.  Clearly I'm not in that market.  But who makes phones for people like me?  The Milestone/Droid line at least has a keyboard, but has other isues (dropping dead being among them).  Where's a phone that has a cover and can't butt dial?  Not everyone wants a phone to be a TV set.  Let Apple be the toy.  But they just chase after it like lambs to the slaughter.

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