Moto Job Cuts Weigh on WiMax

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) has confirmed that it cut workers in its WiMax terminal business as part of the larger swathe of job cuts announced earlier.

”The workforce reductions you've referenced are the result of an internal announcement Motorola made in March 2008,” a spokeswoman wrote in an email to Unstrung. “It's important to note that Motorola remains committed to WiMAX technology."

Motorola has so far announced that it will cut 7,000 jobs in total. The WiMax action affected R&D employees and support groups at the Plantation facility in Florida. (See Moto Will Lay Off 4,000 More and Motorola Is on Life Support.)

WiMax ‘terminals’ can encompass anything from modems and cards to cellphones. Talk at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona suggested that Motorola faced strong competition from Chinese and Taiwanese vendors on price at the low end of the market while Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) had more experience with phones and other sophisticated devices because of the work the South Korean vendor has already done with WiBro. (See Samsung's New Support for WiBro.)

Running to RIM?
Motorola hasn't offered comment on the possibility that BlackBerry hired many of its ex-WiMax staff. AR Communications Inc. analyst Carmi Levy says that he had heard from a couple of different sources that Moto employees moved to RIM but added that neither company is confirming the rumors.

RIM has made no secret of its plans to hire more staff, and it is rumored that the BlackBerry mavens are looking to hire up to 3,000 new employees to support growth, potentially even in WiMax. (See RIM Buys on the Downbeat.)

"While WiMax expertise can certainly be leveraged in LTE development, I believe the move by RIM to hire on these resources from Motorola's WiMax unit is more designed to cover the company's bases," Levy says.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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