Android, Not Windows Mobile, To Motorola's Rescue?8:11 AM EST Fri. May. 01, 2009
Motorola on Thursday said it would launch several smartphones based on Google's Android platform in the fourth quarter of 2009, with CEO Sanjay Jha telling investors during the company's quarterly earnings call that Motorola Android phones will mean a "differentiated consumer experience."
But as several reports and analysts were quick to point out late Thursday and early Friday, Jha's discussion of Motorola's smartphone road map was even more interesting for what he didn't say: no mention -- not a peep -- of Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system. Motorola had previously said it would field smartphones based on both Android and Windows Mobile this year, but on Thursday, Jha was all Android, all the time.
"With Android we believe we can enable differentiated consumer experience and applications," said Jha on the conference call Thursday.
Jha added that the Android rollout, which he confirmed would be toward the end of the year, would include entry-level data devices.
"I like to think of rich, data-enabled devices which have more capabilities than SMS," Jha said. "One of the things I particularly like about the Android platform is the very good mobile Internet experience."
Jha praised Android, saying that thanks to the thousands of third-party applications and developer enthusiasm, Android represents a viable platform with a "large enough ecosystem." According to Jha, the Motorola Android phones also will launch with "multiple carriers in multiple regions."
Google's Android platform has been on the minds of many a smartphone maker. While only HTC's T-Mobile G1 has hit the market so far, Motorola, HTC and Samsung have promised Android smartphones before the end of 2009.
"We expect our second-quarter sales and units to be comparable to slightly down on a sequential basis," Jha told investors Thursday. "We are making important strides in operating as a more effective organization."
Motorola seems to be placing its bet on Android to save its plummeting phone business. Competitors such as Apple, LG, Research In Motion, Samsung and others have stymied the once-proud brand, and during the first fiscal quarter, Motorola reported, its mobile device sales were down 45 percent.
Most estimates put Motorola's global market share at about 6 percent at present. Less than three years ago, in Motorola's fourth quarter of 2006, the company had a 23 percent market share. For its first quarter this year, Motorola posted a loss of $231 million and revenue fell 28 percent to $5.37 billion.
"They're stuck heavily in the handset death spiral," said Edward Snyder, an analyst with Charter Equity Research, to The New York Times. "If they have tens of billions of dollars they want to pour into this black hole, they might be able to save it. Even then, there are no guarantees."