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Motorola falters as competitors prep Android phones

Apr 30, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Motorola announced a 28 percent drop in revenues year over year, with handset sales falling sharply as the company waits for its fourth-quarter Android smartphone launch, says eWEEK. Meanwhile, other industry reports confirm Android smartphone plans from Acer and Taiwanese carrier Far EasTone.

(Click for larger view of the Samsung I7500 Android phone)

“Motorola's first Android phone can't get here fast enough for the struggling handset maker,” noted Roy Mark in a story on Motorola's latest quarterly earning report in our sister publication, eWEEK. Motorola did manage to hang on to a number four ranking among handset manufacturers, and the balance sheet slightly beat Wall Street's low expectations, but the cumulative effect of revenue loss is taking its toll, says the story.

Despite aggressive cost cutting, and the elimination of thousands of jobs, Motorola's handset unit saw a quarterly operating loss of $509 million, with sales falling 45 percent from the previous year's first quarter to $1.8 billion, writes Mark. Handset shipments totaled 14.7 million units, a 23 percent drop from the fourth quarter, wrote Mark.

To put the 28 percent year-over-year revenue loss in perspective for a quarter in which most tech companies posted some sort of loss, HTC, which is one of the more profitable smartphone vendors with its Windows Mobile and Android models, announced a year-over-year revenue drop of 3 percent, says a story today in our sister publication, WindowsForDevices.

Meanwhile, Motorola's Home and Networks Mobility division and the Enterprise Mobility division was said to have remained profitable, despite predictable drops in sales due to the recession, says eWEEK.

HTC Magic
(Click for details)

Motorola was one of the first handset vendors to announce plans to ship an Android phone, but by the time it gets around to doing so, the market may already be crowded. Samsung's first Android model - the I7500 — could ship as early as June. An HTC Magic model (pictured), meanwhile, is targeted for a spring release in Europe by Vodafone. This Fall, additional Android phones are rumored to be coming from Samsung, and Huawei has also announced an Android model.

Acer confirms while Far EasTone tips plans

Now Acer has confirmed its much-rumored plans to ship an Android smartphone this year, according to TG Daily. However, the company, which sells the market leading Aspire One netbook, says it is still evaluating whether Android will fit into its future netbook plans, says the story.

Meanwhile, another carrier has tipped its Android plans: Taiwanese mobile phone service provider Far EasTone. The company is working with a “leading” local handset maker to develop two new Android smartphones in the third quarter, says an IDG News Service story. The story speculates that the vendor is probably HTC, which has already sold a million G1 phones through T-Mobile, according to reports. However, other potential Taiwanese handset vendors might include Asus, Quanta, Compal Communications, Inventec Appliances, Wistron NeWeb, and BenQ, says the story.

Verizon Wireless keeps its options open

Verizon Wireless also appears to be introducing some new smartphone models this year, say various industry reports, but it's unclear whether they'll be based on Android, LiMo (Linux Mobile), the iPhone, Windows Mobile, or all of the above.

BrightHand reports that Verizon has posted a job listing for a developer who can write Java-based applications for a handset platform, suggesting that Android would be the likely candidate. Verizon has pledged to ship a LiMo-compliant phone this year, which might also use Java. However, Android is Java top to bottom except for Google's version of the Linux kernel, which runs core operations. Verizon has stated in the past that it is open to the possibility of offering an Android phone.

A story in BusinessWeek, however, says that Verizon Wireless may really have its eye on offering an Apple smartphone. According to the story, the two companies have been in talks about developing a scaled-down “iPhone-like” handset that would not violate Apple's exclusivity contract with AT&T on the iPhone. Apple has created prototypes of such a phone, as well as a MID-like tablet device that also runs Apple software, says the story. To confuse matters more, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Verizon Wireless is also collaborating with Microsoft on a Microsoft smartphone based on Windows Mobile, code-named “Pink.”


The Roy Mark story in eWEEK, “Motorola's Android Phone Still Months Away,” should be available here.

The TG Daily story on Acer may be found here, and the IDG News story on Far EasTone should be here.

On the Verizon Wireless beat, meanwhile, the Brighthand story should be here, the BusinessWeek story should be here, and the Wall Street Journal story may be here.

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