Motorola Mobility will cut 4,000 staff as the company seeks to rationalise its range of Android smartphone offerings, refocusing on the high end of the market. The layoffs amount to 20 per cent of the workforce, also a third of the 94 offices worldwide will be closed.
Dennis Woodside, Motorola’s new chief executive spoke to the New York Times about the Motorola turnaround strategy he is about to embark upon; “We’re excited about the smartphone business” he said. His plans for Motorola smartphones include drastically cutting the current range to concentrate on high end smartphones with “cool” features designed by an “advanced technology” group in the company headed by an ex Pentagon DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) scientist. The company is hiring AI experts, materials scientists and other engineers to give Motorola smartphones desirable and useful USPs.
Currently Motorola has a line of 27 phones on offer; the amount will be reduced drastically and overall will use half as many components, under the management of former Amazon Kindle supply chain manger Mark Randall. Mr Randall said Motorola had been spending too much money on too wide a range of components.
Google acquired Motorola in May, mainly for the value of the communications patents. Motorola Mobility was once a dominant player in the mobile phone market in the era when the clamshell design was king. Rival Android handset makers will be watching what happens closely as they fear Google favouring Motorola and therefore giving the competitive advantage to its child company. Mr Woodside reiterated Google’s promise not to favour Motorola over other manufacturers. Also for instance Google Nexus device hardware partnerships are still open to any manufacturer.
The big question is – will the new Motorola, more focused on high end “cool” feature smartphones, be able to crash the Apple/Samsung party? In the past quarter Nokia, Sony, RIM and LG have all trailed way behind these two smartphone titans despite their best efforts.