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Motorola Reports An $80m Loss In Q4 2011

Mobile and tablet maker posts $80 million loss in last quarter of 2011, selling only 200,000 Xoom devices during the period

Owing to write-off costs from its impending acquisition by Google and tough competition from the iPhone and other Android phone manufacturers, Motorola Mobility today reported a net loss of $80 million for the fourth quarter 2011.

The Android phone and tablet maker’s revenues for the quarter totaled $3.4 billion (£2.2bn), flat from a year ago, and $13.1 billion (£8.3bn) for the full year, up from $11.5 billion (£7.3bn) a year ago. Device shipments trended low, something Motorola warned Wall Street about earlier this month.

Slow Xoom sales

While Motorola shipped 5.3 million Android smartphones, up from 4.9 million from a year-ago period, the company only sold 200,000 tablets.

For the full year, Motorola sold 18.7 million smartphones, and only 1 million tablets. For perspective, Apple sold 37 million iPhones and 15.4 million iPads in the fourth quarter alone.

Motorola nearly a year ago launched the Xoom as the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet. The company had high expectations for the machine, but the device fizzled amid balky software and other bugs. Motorola was also very late getting its 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) Xoom to market.

The company last fall launched the Droid Xyboard 10.1 and 8.2-inch Honeycomb tablets. While faster, thinner and markedly improved over the Xoom, these devices clearly failed to sell well for the holidays, as consumers opted either for the market incumbent iPad or the low-cost Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.

Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha, who earlier this month said the company would make fewer smartphones to focus on quality, sounded a positive note in the press statement, noting that the company’s ultra-thin Motorola Droid Razr smartphone sold well.

The company also has high expectations for the Razr’s younger brother, the Droid Razr Maxx. This handset is thicker, but has twice the battery life of the Razr and other high-end Android handsets dotting the mobile market. The Motorola Droid 4 is also on its way in February.

Meanwhile, Motorola expects to hear from Europe in February on whether its planned merger with Google can be consummated this year.

It’s unclear when the US Justice Department is planning to rule on the acquisition. Google wants to grab Motorola’s 20,000-plus patents for protection in the nasty IP war currently throttling the sector.

Motorola, which has been able to fend off patent suits from Microsoft and Apple thanks to its IP war chest, simply wants the financial backing at a time when Apple and Samsung are claiming the majority of mobile device profits.