Almost a year ago, bloggers were speculating that Motorola was hiring “scads” of Android developers. Apparently, Motorola still is, as it scrambles to cash in on the expected consumer rush to Android, Google’s Linux-based mobile operating system.
According to several reports, Motorola, the top handset maker in the United States, is heavily recruiting to increase its Android developer team from 50 to 350 members. Motorola is a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance, a powerful alliance of technology providers organized to move Android into the mainstream.
Although Motorola has its own Java-Linux initiative, its interest in Android developers could indicate the company is searching for a change of direction for its own line of struggling cell phones. While Motorola captured almost 26 percent of the U.S. market in the second quarter, sales declined more than 10 percent from a year ago and opened the door for second-place company LG Electronics to close in on Motorola at 21 percent.
Once the global No. 2 cell phone maker behind Nokia, Motorola has fallen to third and is dangerously close to tumbling to fourth as it continues to search for a follow-up hit to its RAZR line.
With or without Android, Motorola is working on spinning off its mobile handset unit after a protracted battle with billionaire investor Carl Icahn, the company’s single largest shareholder, who wants Motorola to get out of the cell phone device business. After Icahn unsuccessfully attempted to gain a seat on the Motorola board in 2007, the company avoided a proxy fight this year by agreeing to seat two Icahn associates on the board and to seek input from Icahn about the future of Motorola’s Mobile Phone division.
In August, Motorola appointed former Qualcomm Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Jha as co-CEO of the company and CEO of Motorola’s Mobile Devices division. Jha will serve as co-CEO with current CEO Greg Brown. Brown was also named CEO of Motorola’s Broadband Mobility Solutions unit, which consists of the Home & Networks Mobility and Enterprise Mobility Solutions businesses. Brown and Jha will share responsibility for Motorola as it moves toward separating into two independent, publicly traded companies.