Anticipation has been building around Motorola’s Android announcements scheduled for today in San Francisco. Sanjay Jha, Motorola’s co-CEO and CEO of the company’s handset division, will make the announcements. Many are calling the Android devices integral to the ailing OEM’s future.
To be sure, Motorola is not the company it was when it released the record-breaking RAZR back in 2004. Jha, lured away from Qualcomm with a pay package that would make him 2008’s highest paid executive in America, was hired to make a phoenix of whatever ashes might be left since the RAZR lost its appeal.
Revenue from the company’s ailing cell phone division has dropped 70 percent over the past two years, and the very spin-off of the company’s handset division that Jha was brought in to facilitate was put off more than once.
But while Motorola may have suffered some over the past couple of years, Kevin Burden, senior device analyst for ABI Research, doesn’t think the sky over Motorola’s Chicago headquarters is falling.
“My belief is that Motorola has a very large and diverse portfolio of mobile phones. They themselves could make it a make-or-break point, depending on which way they want to go,” Burden says, noting that the hardest part for Motorola may be accepting that it’s not on top anymore and developing a strategy going forward that recognizes that fact.
And the fact of the matter is when Motorola was big, it was “iPhone” big. Motorola remade what users expect in handset design. One-hundred million RAZRs later, thin and sleek is the name of the game in mobile handsets.
When asked how that fall happened, Burden cites a lack of balance in Motorola’s business plan. “They focused too much on market share and not enough on profit. They were actually doing very well with market share; it was the fact that there was no money in it that hurt,” Burden says, noting there was a certain resting of laurels during the RAZR’s heyday.
So along comes the possibility of a couple of big-hype Android phones from the once mighty OEM, and everyone is wondering if it will be enough. Burden thinks it can be, but adds Motorola has to put its own unique signature on it. “There’s a lot of opportunity to differentiate with Android. Can they compete against HTC? Sure. If they find a way to launch some back-end service or feature that adds some kind of unique value.”
Stay tuned. Soon, the world will find out what’s behind Moto’s curtain. One thing’s for sure: Wireless-wise, Apple did Motorola a favor with a relatively low-key “Rock and Roll” event yesterday that shouldn’t steal too much of Motorola’s thunder today.
Check Wireless Week.com for updates from today’s GigaOM conference in San Francisco.