Although Motorola's home and network mobility division and its enterprise mobility unit pulled decent numbers in the third quarter, cell phone sales posted an operating loss of $840 million to drag Motorola into an overall loss. While Motorola still clings to the title of the United States' top cell phone maker, the iconic technology company has fallen to third in global sales behind Nokia and Samsung with LG close to pushing Motorola into fourth place. Apple's wildly popular iPhone continues to grab consumer share while BlackBerrys are the overwhelming choice of enterprises.
A year ago, Motorola co-CEO Greg Brown announced the company planned to spin off its money-losing handset division, as billionaire investor Carl Icahn has urged, but the worsening economic climate forced Motorola to put that plan on hold in October.
"The environment just isn't conducive to pursuing [the deal due to the] global economy and stressed financial markets, but we remain committed to that," Brown said in a third-quarter conference call with reporters and analysts.
That leaves fellow co-CEO Sanjay Jha, who was brought in from Qualcomm in August to lead the spin-off, making a commitment to and a leap of faith with Google Android and Microsoft Windows Mobile as Motorola's future operating systems for its mobile devices. Jha said Motorola would ditch at least four operating systems, including Symbian, to focus on developing midtier phones running Android and high-end enterprise devices operating on Windows Mobile.
Jha predicted it would take until the third quarter of 2009 to bring out a Windows Mobile phone targeted at enterprises and probably until the 2009 Christmas season before a Motorola-built Android phone could hit the market.
Motorola's mobile devices division represents about half of the company's sales. After introducing the successful RAZR model in 2004, Motorola has struggled to launch another hit cell phone.