Motorola Could Benefit From Android Handsets

MobilityOpen SourceSoftware

Motorola is expected to release two handsets running Google’s Android OS for the holiday season, which is contributing to sunny expectations for the mobile and wireless manufacturer

Expectations around Google’s mobile operating system, Android, continue to run high.

Equity research company Broadpoint AmTech indicated a very positive opinion of Motorola in a July 31 report to investors, based, it stated, on the results of Motorola’s most recent quarter, its improving balance sheet and “the promise of the Android [ramp-up] in the holiday season and beyond.”

Analyst Mark McKechnie wrote in the report, “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.” McKechnie named Verizon as the expected U.S. carrier of an EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) phone and T-Mobile as expected U.S. carrier of an HSPA model.

“Carriers have fully embraced smartphones as a way to lock in customers and drive better ARPUs,” McKechnie continued. “If [Motorola] has a hit on its hands with Android, it will find the channels.”

In a struggling economy, and with global handset shipments down 8 percent in the second quarter of 2009, the magic word for conjuring success—or at least optimism—seems to be Android.

During Verizon Wireless’ quarterly earnings call on 27 July, Chief Operating Officer Denny Strigl announced that an Android phone was on the carrier’s road map, as well as a Palm Pre. On the same day, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse suggested that an Android phone from Motorola was imminent on his network.

“Some things I can’t disclose, but I’m pretty impressed on the handset side with what Sanjay’s been able to do there since he’s been there,” Hesse said, referring to Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha.

Jha recently came to Motorola from Qualcomm, and McKechnie, too, has described him as “doing all the right things.”

When asked why Android has been received so positively, McKechnie told eWEEK, “On the handset side, when we talk to carriers, their attitude is, the ship is at the dock, and if it pulls away, we want to be on it.”

In his report, McKechnie wrote that Motorola is now in the No. 4 handset position, and three times over the past two decades it has pulled itself up after falling. Android is clearly a focus of its newest strategy for success. Motorola, McKechnie wrote in the report, “will [rely] on [original design manufacturers] for its feature and voice-centric phones while developing Android phones in-house.”

Part of the potential for success for Motorola, McKechnie told eWEEK, is “you’re partnering three important players: Google, Qualcomm on the chip-set side and Motorola on the handset side. So it’s a pretty good potential combination overall.”

Regarding the bigger picture, “Carriers are looking for an answer to Apple and the iPhone,” McKechnie explained. “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.”

Developers and their applications, as the industry has learned from Apple and its 1.5 billion-plus application downloads, are where solid success is rooted these days.

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