Among Motorola’s chief concerns going forward are differentiation and targeting mid-tier devices to emerging markets, according to Motorola Mobility Chairman and CEO Sanjay Jha at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2011 Technology Conference today.
Motorola has seen a slight drop in market share over the past couple quarters, which Jha attributes to delays on the company’s LTE-capable devices. In the United States, both Samsung and HTC beat the company to market with devices that will run on Verizon Wireless’ LTE pipes.
Jha said the company will focus on differentiating its products in the short-term by way of software, marketing, strengthening its brand, increasing enterprise offerings and evolving more products like the Atrix Webtop.
Motorola’s cloud-based MotoBlur currently boasts over 10 million active subscribers, Jha said, adding that it’s a number that gives him hope for the service. He said he hopes to drive scale using MotoBlur. “If you don’t have scale, there’s really not much you can do,” he said.
Jha envisions MotoBlur as a way of improving the customer experience. He said the company will eventually be able to build in features that smooth the rough edges of Android, such as poorly-made apps that drain battery life. Jha expects MotoBlur to one day alert people to how much battery drain is happening on any given app and then give them the choice to keep it open or kill it.
Products like the Atrix, with its unique docking system, have been important for Motorola over the past year as it tries to distinguish itself from other Android OEMs like HTC and Samsung.
“The Atrix, I think did better than many thought it would do but not as well as I would have liked to see,” Jha admitted, but added that the device increased the company’s base and was important for future innovation.
As far as long-term differentiation, Jha has a theory on that. “Your customers or even the industry doesn’t think you have something until you innovate in the same space for three consecutive cycles,” he said.
While the company says subsidy pricing in the U.S. doesn’t allow for much of a mid-tier smartphone market, the segment will take off in emerging markets. Last year, 55 percent of Motorola’s revenue came from the U.S. Jha said that will change as the company begins to aggressively address markets in Latin America, China and eventually Africa and India with lower-end devices.
Jha reasserted his now familiar commitment and fondness for the Android operating system, saying he would welcome a version of the OS like Ice Cream Sandwich that would unify both smartphone and tablet versions into one iteration.