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Motorola preps two Android phones as finances stabilize

Aug 4, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

After its positive Q2 earnings report, Motorola announced it would release two Android handsets in the U.S. for the holidays. Meanwhile, rumors that Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint will field Motorola's Android phones have led to some “sunny expectations” about the struggling company among investment analysts, says a story in eWEEK.

Motorola was one of the first handset vendors to announce plans to ship an Android phone. Last fall, it shocked the industry by stating that it would replace its native Linux MotoMAGX platform with Android and also ditch Symbian UIQ. (Windows Mobile may still be on the radar, but probably not until 2010, Motorola announced earlier this year.)

Despite Motorola's early announcement, it has taken time to make the shift to Android, and in the meantime, several more HTC-made Android phones have reached market, as has a Samsung I7500 model, which is aimed at Vodafone in Europe. More handset vendors should jump in around the time Motorola debuts its Android phones this fall.

Now, according to recent statements by Sanjay Jha (pictured at right), Co-CEO of Motorola and CEO of the Mobile Devices unit, two Android phones will ship by the end of the year, as well as several more in Europe. More Android phones are slated to ship in 2009, said Jha, following Mot's recent earnings release, according to numerous reports.

Will the Sholes save Mot from the shoals?

The rumors that Verizon Wireless' first Android phone will be a Motorola model were bolstered by some renders and blurry photos (left) of an alleged "Sholes" Mot/Verizon Android smartphone that have popped up on the web. Engadget, for example, offered a render and some basic stats borrowed from Russia-based, describing the Sholes as providing a 3.7-inch, 480 x 854, touchscreen. Due to ship in the U.S. in October, the phone will feature 512MB of storage, 256MB RAM, a microSDHC slot with 8GB standard, says the story. Other alleged features include a five megapixel camera, GPS, USB, Bluetooth 2.0, and WiFi.

Whether or not Sholes is for real, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint have all been mentioned as possible distributors of Motorola's first Android phones later this year, according to several reports. During Verizon Wireless' quarterly earnings call on July 27, the company announced that an Android phone was on its road map, along with a Palm Pre launch, and on the same day, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse suggested that Sprint would soon field Motorola's first Android phone, according to an earlier story by eWEEK's Michelle Maisto.

In a new story by Maisto, Equity research company Broadpoint AmTech was said to have published a positive opinion of Motorola in a July 31 report to investors, encouraged by Motorola's quarterly earnings. Motorola's 2Q numbers were much better than its dismal 1Q report in April when it announced a 28 percent drop in revenues year over year. Despite aggressive cost cutting, and the elimination of thousands of jobs, Motorola's handset unit saw a quarterly operating loss of $509 million, with first-quarter sales falling 45 percent from the previous year's first quarter to $1.8 billion.

The new 2Q report is somewhat rosier, with Motorola showing a $26 million profit overall. That profit, however, was based on sales of $5.5 billion overall, with the handset unit producing only $1.8 billion of that revenue, a 45 percent drop. Still, the shedding of jobs and other belt-tightening appears to have at least brought some investors back for a second look.

"We are encouraged by [Motorola's] commentary on Android — the company now expects to ship two handsets for the holiday season to two large U.S. carriers — and several in Europe," wrote Broadpoint AmTech's Mark McKechnie, according to Maisto.

Analyst: Verizon and T-Mobile to get Mot ball rolling

McKechnie was said to have named Verizon as the expected U.S. carrier of an EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) Motorola phone, and T-Mobile as the expected U.S. carrier of an HSPA model from Mot.

McKechnie was quoted by the story as concluding, "If [Motorola] has a hit on its hands with Android, it will find the channels. Carriers are looking for an answer to Apple and the iPhone. What Google can bring to [Motorola] is not only a good OS and good mobile environment, but also a tremendous number of developers who are going to want to develop for them."

Motorola's hopes for Android may have been dampened, however, by HTC's recent financial projections. Despite showing strong 2Q numbers and stating that it expected Android sales to eclipse its Windows Mobile sales by next year, the company turned around last week and announced that its second-half revenues would decrease due to less than expected momentum for both its Windows Mobile and Android phones.


The eWEEK story on Motorola may be found here. The Engadget story on the Motorola Sholes phone may be found here, and the original report should be here.

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