Moto-Woe-la: Bad News Stacking Up

We've been feeling, well, empty here at WMExperts lately and at a bit of a loss as to explain why. Could it be that there's a dearth of gadget rumors? No - HTC has some fancy stuff coming out and our sister site TreoCentral reported (before anybody else, btw) that the 800w has entered some sort of public/private Beta test. Could it be that we haven't been able to play around with new gadgets lately? No - a quick perusal of our Reviews Archive definitely shows that the flow of useful toys and accessories has been steady. What is it, then?

Oh yeah, it's been several weeks since we reported on what is increasingly looking like the death spiral of Motorola. Silly us. Read on for the latest in Moto-Woe-la (get it?): Two bits on that pesky Carl Icahn, Motorola's latest financial results, and peek at their upcoming device roadmap. Like a car crash, we know you won't be able to look away.

Détente with Icahn

Here's the latest: After the announcement that Motorola intends to split in two, they finally reached an accord with gadfly Carl Icahn - Icahn gets two of his people on Motorola's board, in exchange for which he dropped his lawsuits and promised to quit trying to take over the company with a stock proxy bid. Oh, and he'll quit saying nasty things about Motorola publicly. Nice, right?

Dear reader, this is Motorola, whose CEO apparently doesn't believe in email, so “nice” is a tough thing for them to come by. No, apparently the new set up with Icahn is fraught with tension, as USA Today [via mocoNews] reports:

Under the terms of the agreement, Icahn can weigh in on candidates who are being considered for CEO of the new devices company. Brown, without offering any barbs in Icahn's direction, makes it clear the concession is purely window dressing.      “We will select the leader for mobile devices,” he says flatly, adding for emphasis: “Management will select.” [emphasis his]      As for that clause, “Sure,” Brown says, a frozen smile affixed to his face, “he can certainly offer us an opinion.”

Yeouch. This is shaping up like some sort of wacky corporate custody battle, innit?

Bad Finances

The bad news continues, as Motorola also just announced their last quarter's financial results. Grim? Grim:

  • “The net loss from continuing operations in the first quarter of 2008 was $194 million, or $0.09 per share.”
  • “Mobile Devices segment sales were $3.3 billion, down 39 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. The operating loss was $418 million, compared to an operating loss of $233 million in the year-ago quarter”
  • “The Company’s outlook for the second quarter is a loss from continuing operations of $0.02 to $0.04 per share”

Roadmap: Bumpy.

So Motorola has some sweet, high-end smartphone devices like the rumored Motorola Q10 or a Q9h with included WiFi to help out, right? Right?

You know the drill. Wrong. Here's a leak of their 2008 roadmap -

See the Windows Mobile device in there? Neither do we. See some sort of high-margin device in there? Neither do we.

Now What?

What's Motorola to do? Search us. We do think that this split could actually end up being pretty good. We've spoken with folks in charge of Motorola's business services and found them to be very smart. Ditto on the device side. There are hella-smart people at Motorola, but something's keeping them from being able to execute. We're with Icahn on this one: Motorola's got too much talent and too many resources to be floundering like this. They need to figure out where the problem is and right it, right quick.

As for me, I'm still loving my Motorola Q9h, I'm just worried it's going to be the last of its kind.

WC Staff