Responding to speculation that the iPhone will land at Verizon Wireless early next year, Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha played down any sort of negative impact it might have on Motorola, which has been riding the Droid wave with the carrier since it launched the first Droid last year.
Speaking at the Deutsche Bank 2010 Technology Conference in San Francisco late yesterday, Jha said while there are no guarantees, he doesn’t believe Verizon would walk away from the Droid franchise.
He added that “I’m not hearing this [iPhone report] from Verizon,” but from “you guys,” and if the iPhone does go to Verizon, it creates some potential opportunity for Motorola at AT&T. In addition, the first quarter is an important one in China, one of Motorola’s biggest markets outside the United States, with the Chinese New Year, and that could help offset the effect an iPhone at Verizon might have.
Motorola has been a big part of Verizon’s Droid marketing, beginning with the first Droid last year and following that up with the Droid 2 and Droid X this year.
About 70 percent of Motorola’s handset revenue is from the U.S. market; the other two major markets for the company are China and Latin America. While consumer recognition of Motorola in Europe is good, consumers’ intent to purchase the brand is not, and he hopes to change that in 2011.
Motorola also may have a tablet based on Android early next year, but he said the current version of Android isn’t built for a tablet, echoing earlier comments made by a Google executive.
Jha said he’s excited about the tablet market but thinks there could be other models that are more smartphone-centric, like a larger device that can still be carried in a pocket. He didn’t elaborate but said the company is engaged in conversations about that and would talk more when there are more concrete things to say.
Jha reaffirmed earlier guidance calling for the company to ship 12 million to 14 million smartphones for the year. Relative to a year ago, he sees the company’s third quarter this year as more focused.
Asked about a smartphone “food fight” coming in the fourth quarter with Research In Motion 6.0, Microsoft’s Phone 7 and other vendors with Android models, Jha said he believes the fourth quarter is where “nearly everyone in the business is clicking on all cylinders.” All of that competition leads to uncertainty and that may be part of the reason he’s been accused of being conservative in his estimates.
Here are a few other points he made during the conversation on stage:
- As for supply constraints amid all of these new releases, the single component that Motorola is most concerned with is the camera sensor.
- Motorola is not going to heavily brand MotoBlur as a service; the company tried that and decided to concentrate on the Motorola brand rather than MotoBlur for the timebeing.
- Asked about speculation that Google would seek to unify the UI of Android and whether that would eliminate manufacturers’ ability to differentiate, he said he’s aware of that speculation but has not been told that in conversations with Google. One of the reasons the ecosystem has progressed so much is the manufacturers’ ability to diversify around the platform.