Motorola Casts Handset Business Off To Survive On Its Own

from the fly,-fly,-fly-away-little-razr dept

A few months ago there were rumors that Motorola might sell off its struggling handset division to another provider, however there didn't seem to be many interested buyers. It appears that Motorola has chosen option two instead: spin off the business to survive (or fail) on its own. The business accounts for the largest chunk of Motorola's earnings, but it is also a huge drag on earnings. Basically, the other parts of Motorola had been subsidizing the handset business. It's still rather amazing how slow Motorola is to come out with interesting handsets that people want. It had a huge success with the Startac in the 90s and then took nearly a decade before finding another hit with the RAZR. But just as with the Startac, it milked the RAZR concept for all it was worth and now is left in the dust while other firms are putting out much more innovative phones. Spinning off the business may separate it from the other parts of Motorola's business, but unless it starts designing phones people actually want, it's not going to make much of a difference.


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(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    DanC, Mar 26th, 2008 @ 8:31pm

    I was never a fan of the RAZR - I used to sell the things, and they were extremely flimsy (I dissected a V3), but it was definitely a hit.

    Unfortunately, every single follow-up phone Motorola came up with afterwards was a further extension of the RAZR style, like the KRZR, SLIVR, RIZR, etc. One exception was the ROKR, the first phone with (poor) iTunes support, which failed spectacularly and was abandoned by Apple.

    Basically, people are tired of the RAZR, and Motorola has continued pushing it regardless. Motorola has stopped making innovative designs, and other companies are doing it better.
    Samsung has the Juke, LG has the Chocolate, Apple obviously has the iPhone, and yet Motorola is still trying to sell phones based off the same old RAZR style.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2008 @ 9:37pm

    Re:

    I didn't mind the RAZR really. Aside from the LCD screen being a little weak, I found the phone to be sturdy enough and easy to use.

    About the only annoying thing was the way the buttons collected dust and other things. For a while I thought my hands were just always filthy, but when the LCD screen broke (accursed milk crates!) and I had to get a different phone I never had that issue again. Wierd IMO.

    But anyways, Motorolla probably made a smooth move here. They just really don't have good phone designers.

    Love their modems though, those things are tanks from my experience.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Jake, Mar 26th, 2008 @ 10:17pm

    There's nothing wrong with the RAZR as a mobile phone, but doing anything useful with the GPRS function is next to impossible with the nine-button keypad, and after-market Bluetooth keyboards cost as much as the handset itself. Which is a real shame, because in all other respects it's a good design for someone who wants a phone with some decent personal organiser functions that isn't trying to pretend it's a laptop. Not charging an extra £14.95 for a CD with some drivers and a mini-USB cable wouldn't hurt either, especially since they crippled Bluetooth functionality.

     

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  4.  
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    Elver, Mar 27th, 2008 @ 2:33am

    Actually...

    Motorola has some really nice Linux-based phones, but they're only available in Asia.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Colin, Mar 27th, 2008 @ 9:32am

    Interesting article and discussion...

    but I wonder how many people are like me - they don't want innovation, they want a phone that works. I've tried Ericssons and Samsungs and several others and kind of concluded that while they may be good in major cities where the cell towers are as thick on the ground as the pidgeons, they have really bad reception in middle America where I spend a lot of time on business. Motorola phones always seem to be able to pull in a connection. Perhaps they should try making the unlock codes freely available (and the unlock process easier for the end user) so us world travellers can swap our SIM cards out - that ought to make the phones really desirable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2008 @ 2:03pm

    This is a really great letter that was written to the top brass at Motorola and calling them out. I believe that it is by a former employee of the company.

    http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/26/motorola-insider-tells-all-about-the-fall-of-a-techno logy-icon/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Elver, Mar 27th, 2008 @ 6:03pm

    GPS

    Well, I can understand you wanting "a phone that just works" and while most of what's been branded as "innovation" in this business has been junk, I'd still love a phone that can show me TV on-demand (so I can watch episodes of House on a train), provide a detailed map showing my position via GPS (so I don't get lost in cities anymore), give me access to Google's services (so I can work from anywhere), and have a battery that lasts for at least 6 hours of continuous usage.

    Pretty much all of these things require real innovation to achieve.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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