Motorola Goes Android



Motorola’s co-chief executive, Sanjay Jha, who heads the mobile devices business, has decided to focus on Google’s Android software for many new phones, the WSJ reported today.

Details of the plan, which could include thousands of layoffs, could be announced Thursday, when the company reports its results, the paper said. Motorola is expected to build mid-tier devices, which account for most of its sales, around Android.

Meanwhile, business-focused devices will be based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and the company will use its own platform, P2K, for low-end phones. The company is also seeking to outsource production of some Windows Mobile phones, the paper reported.

We will no longer offer new devices on Symbian UIQ [Moto's version of the Symbian OS] and our internally developed Linux-Java platform,” said Motorola’s new co-CEO and handset unit head, Sanjay Jha. “Our first Android platform is targeted to be on the market for the holiday season 2009.

Motorola says 3,000 layoffs are expected, more than two thirds of which will come from Mobile Devices unit. Jha hopes Mobile devices sales will “grow meaningfully” in second half of 2009.

According to the NY Times, the current downturn is impacting every handset maker in the business. It is a downturn that is going to be equally hard for Motorola, since it doesn’t have any hit phones for this holiday season, which means it will keep ceding market share to the likes of Apple, RIM and Nokia.

The top 10 Most Popular U.S. Handsets in September include, (1) the RIM Blackberry Curve (26%), (2) Apple iPhone (9.2%) and (3) LG Dare, at 7.9% of the market.

Nielsen says the U.S. has 26M Smartphone subscribers out of the 260M cellular subscribers.

RCR Wireless News profiles Rich Miner, the general manager of Google’s Mobile Platforms business and the founder of Android, the startup that Google acquired three years ago:

Miner, a 15-year veteran of the wireless industry, said Android rose from the ashes of his tenure at European operator Orange, which was the first carrier in the world to launch a cellphone running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software. Although the launch propelled Orange onto the international scene as a maverick in the mobile space, Miner said the lessons he learned from the event pushed him to found Android.

“It became clear to me that there were fundamental things that needed fixing in the mobile industry,” he said.

Despite being Microsoft’s only Windows Mobile customer, “we were still dictated terms as to what we could and couldn’t do” with the software. Miner indicated that Microsoft made it clear that Windows Mobile was a Microsoft product and not an Orange product.

Further, after the launch, Miner said Orange wanted to add push-to-talk capabilities to the phone, but discovered a glitch in Microsoft’s platform that wouldn’t allow the carrier to add the service. Microsoft agreed to rectify the issue, Miner said, but advised it would take 18 months to do so. And since the platform was not open to others, neither Orange nor the manufacturer (HTC Corp.) could modify it.

Miner said Google’s Android promises a different approach. Google helped develop the platform using “best-in-class solutions,” and, as of yesterday, made it free and open to anyone. This, Miner said, will allows anyone — individuals, businesses, handset makers and carriers — to develop Android services and applications via full access to the platform, from the bottom on up.

“No one party completely controls that platform and that software stack,” Miner said. “Each component can be mashed up with other components.”

Members of Android’s Open Handset Alliance include, Kyocera Wireless, HTC, Motorola, Samsung Electronics, Sprint Nextel as well as China Mobile, KDDI and NTT DoCoMo.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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