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Competition has not been kind; Motorola struggles to keep pace with Apple and Samsung

Yesterday, when the Interactive Data Corp. (IDC) posted its estimates of smartphone sales one company was noticeably absent from the top five of either smartphone or total phone (incl. feature phone) sales -- Motorola Mobility, Inc. (MMI).

I. Motorola Bleeds Cash Despite Having Perhaps the Best Android Out There

Motorola is on the verge of being acquired by Google, Inc. (GOOG), following U.S. [press release] and European Union [press release] approval of the blockbuster purchase. However, it has seen the purchase stalled by China [source], which is using the pending approval as leverage in an effort to silence Google's claims of abuse in the Asian giant.

Things are looking pretty bad at Motorola, who on Wednesday reported a fifth straight quarter of losses.  The firm pulled in a net revenue of $3.1B USD for Q1 2012, while posting an $86M USD net loss, just slightly worse than the $81M USD and $80M USD losses Motorola posted in Q1 2011 and Q4 2011, respectively.

Despite enjoying a posh position as one of the world's top three phonemakers on the world's largest smartphone operating system platform -- Android -- Motorola remains far behind South Korea Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) and even the struggling Taiwanese phonemaker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498).

The American phonemaker's struggles come after a brief resurgence early in the Android campaign.  Motorola has suffered from being unable to keep pace with Samsung and HTC in terms of marketing and having a broad high-end handset selection.

Motorola did put forward some strong product of late.  One example is the Droid RAZR MAXX, the successor to one of Motorola's better recent sucesses, the Droid RAZR.  

Despite the RAZR MAXX impressing, Motorola still sustained heavy losses in Q1
[Image Source: Verizon Wireless]

The bad news with the MAXX is that despite its whopping 12.54 watt-hour battery -- a gargantuan design near 2.5 times the capacity of Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone 4S -- Motorola only manages 8 hours of battery life (according to AnandTech), a full hour less than the iPhone 4S.  The good news is that 8+ hours is more than any other Android smartphone on the market can muster.

The MAXX also places near the top of the pack in CPU performance (thanks to its Texas Instruments (TXN) OMAP 4 series CPU) and is acceptable graphics-wise thanks to the PowerVR SGX 540 GPU from Imagination Technologies plc (LON:IMG), also found in the Samsung Galaxy S with a lower clock speed.

III. Motorola Has Its Work Cut Out For It

Motorola shipped 8.9 million total phones for the quarter, of which 5.1 million were smartphones.  That's approximately one-seventh (~14 percent) of the smartphones shipped by Samsung.

Sanjay Jha, chairman and CEO of Motorola Mobility defended [press release] the poor performance, pointing to the outstanding RAZR MAXX as a game-changer.  He states, "The introduction of RAZR MAXX marked another successful addition to the Motorola product family and contributed to our growth in smartphones. Our Home business delivered another solid quarter highlighted by improvement in year-over-year profitability.  We continue to work closely with Google to complete the proposed merger during the first half of the year."

Knight in Shining Armor
Google may be Motorola's knight in shining armor, but even the software superpower may be unable to save the troubled phonemaker. [Image Source: Not a Fertile Myrtle]

The closing remark alludes to what appears to be Motorola's current hope at this point -- to be scooped up and saved by its shining knight-in-armor Google.  But Google's bid to save the damsel-in-distress phonemaker carries no guarantees of turning around the soon-to-be-unit -- it merely provides relief for shareholders.

To compete Motorola will need a lot more models like the RAZR MAXX to flesh out its rather weak Android smartphone lineup.  It will also need to grow share in the world's biggest smartphone market -- China -- as most of its sales are currently isolated to the U.S.

Source: Motorola Mobility

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My Droid X was a good smartphone
By 1ceTr0n on 5/2/2012 3:00:46 PM , Rating: 3
Was my first one also that I got in Nov 11. Hardly had any issues with it other then the Gingerbread acting really weird once it was updated with latest version along with Motorola's blur and it didnt' seem to like my unlock widget either. I thought about rooting it but I didn't feel like bricking a $400 phone at the time and just lived with Gingerbread, though I preffered Froyo.

Also think it had a MUCH better LCD screen then any other current phones with the craptastic Pentile displays. The colors were accurate and sharp all around along with text reading, especially in comparison to current Droids. Wish my new Galaxy Note had the same screen tech but it seems AMOLED and pentile won't go away sadly...

RE: My Droid X was a good smartphone
By 1ceTr0n on 5/2/2012 3:10:44 PM , Rating: 2
Also, what the hell does Wonder Woman have to do with this article?

RE: My Droid X was a good smartphone
By One43637 on 5/2/2012 3:42:29 PM , Rating: 3
If I had to guess, that's Lois Lane...

RE: My Droid X was a good smartphone
By 1ceTr0n on 5/2/2012 3:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
Even more so, wtf is the point of her pic?

RE: My Droid X was a good smartphone
By Warren21 on 5/2/2012 5:10:44 PM , Rating: 5
She waits for Superman to save her?

JM is equating Motorola with Lois Lane and Google with Superman, metaphorically.

By One43637 on 5/3/2012 4:50:58 PM , Rating: 2
+1 to you if I could.

I thought it was obvious if I replied with Lois, but I guessed wrong.

By 1ceTr0n on 5/4/2012 1:45:20 AM , Rating: 2
ooooooh. I thought it was something to do with woman and their monthly "Aunt Flo" visits a.k.a bleeding

By Bostlabs on 5/4/2012 11:51:03 AM , Rating: 2
Lois Lane = Classic Damsel in Distress.

By JohnThacker on 5/2/2012 8:58:31 PM , Rating: 5
Motorola only manages 8 hours of battery life (according to AnandTech), a full hour less than the iPhone 4S.

Slightly misleading. The Razr Maxx outdoes the iPhone 4S in battery life on WiFi and more than doubles it in battery life on voice, according to Anandtech. The difference cited is in 3G web browsing. (And of course LTE is no comparison, due to the lack of support for that on the iPhone 4S.)

The difference in battery life will thus depend on how people use it, whether you use your phone on WiFi, 3G, for voice, or want to use it on 4G.

By sprockkets on 5/2/2012 3:36:44 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, compared to the HTC one xl yesterday on Anands review the moto razr maxx sucks. The fact that its battery is so large yet isn't that much better in batt life speaks volumes.

RE: maxx?
By celticbrewer on 5/4/2012 10:38:03 AM , Rating: 2
And is the Maxx on ATT? Is the HTC 1X on Verizon? No.

I don't see anyone complaining about the battery life in all the Maxx reviews. This article totally failed with that issue.

And if there is a battery issue, how will the ICS update this month affect it?

By bupkus on 5/2/2012 3:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
By stalling, China's approval as required by law is just so much Google arm twisting. Without Googling the question, I would bet Chinese telecom is preparing a mobility OS of their own and want whatever more time to catch up. This tactic appears beneficial to China from all angles.

By WalksTheWalk on 5/3/2012 10:00:26 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with this plan is that only so many high-end smartphones can exist at the top of the Android market. Only the very best designs will gain a critical mass following and the rest will be relegated to low volume which would put Moto in a much worse place.

To do this, they would need to guarantee that their designs are the best out there which is not an easy thing to do given the heat of the high-end market, particularly when HTC has stepped up its game to a very high level and Samsung looks poised to do the same.

This could work for them if have an exclusive lock on high-end Android phones for a carrier like Verizon, but I doubt Verizon would do that.

By LTGJAMAICA on 5/3/12, Rating: 0
RE: Marketing
By ritualm on 5/3/2012 2:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
Stop spamming your lame blog for pageviews, idiot.

I don't like Moto any more...:-(
By Roffles on 5/4/2012 7:03:37 PM , Rating: 2
As a very satisfied OG Motorola Droid owner who was ready for an upgrade, I didn't think twice about buying the Bionic. But my Bionic is a big turd with bumped up specs. It's only remarkable trait is that you can talk for hours and hours and it doesn't take much battery. The rest of the phone is pretty much rubbish...from the battery door that's too hard to open when you have short nails (it's actually a bit painful because the edge of the battery cover will dig at the tender skin under your nails as you try to pry it open), to the LTE that destroys the battery, to the random bugs that crash programs, to the absolutely pointless motoblur UI.

But it's the little how the phone's vibration is much weaker than OG Droids and you can miss calls sometimes even when it's in your pocket (it also makes it less useful as a vibrating alarm clock). And the pentile screen, even after getting used to it, can give you a headache. The bloatware is completely out of control and my biggest complaint. My app drawer is cluttered with crap I can't get rid of. It took them ~4 months to firmware fix this hideous ringing noise coming from the headphone jack along with some other random bugs. The camera's performance is bad enough to where I don't even think about using it any more. Finally, there's no definite word on when or if it will ever see Ice Cream Sandwich. The phone just isn't any good.

I've dismissed Motorola. I believe the rumors that the Bionic was a half-assed phone, revamped from the CES model, that was only meant to pad their pockets while they were ramping up for the Razr. And to that point, I do feel like my loyalty was taken advantage of. I'm looking to Samsung or HTC for my next Android phone. I haven't given them a chance yet.

If I weren't such a miser with my money, I would probably cancel my contract with Verizon and go get the HTC one X from ATT. Verizon doesn't seem to bring any good Android phones to the table anyways.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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