Brown: Motorola 'didn't see the trends coming in smartphone and 3G'

Motorola's current struggles are tied directly to its failure to anticipate the mobile industry's evolution from voice services to web and messaging applications, according to the handset maker's joint CEO Greg Brown. In an interview with The Financial Times, Brown is brutally frank about Motorola's missteps, admitting the company "didn't see the trends coming in smartphone and 3G with the kind of foresight and customer attention that it should have" and failed to properly address the growing supremacy of mobile software over handset design. "I think the majority of the challenges Motorola faces are our own doing," Brown said. "The economy exacerbates it but certainly didn't cause it."

Brown additionally points a finger at Motorola's botched efforts to develop a single operating system for its handsets based on Linux and Java, noting that while its rivals have pursued a more simple and streamlined model, Motorola has been "rolling against the tide" by relying on multiple operating systems and chipset suppliers. Motorola will now turn to Google's Android mobile OS in an attempt to resuscitate its handset business, adopting a turnaround strategy devised by Brown and fellow CEO Sanjay Jha that will transform the firm into a niche player that will concentrate on mid- to higher-priced devices marketed to the U.S., Latin America and China. Motorola's first Android devices will go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2009--in the interim, the company will focus on cutting costs, seeking to reduce mobile operating expenses by $1.2 billion this year and slashing 5,000 jobs.

For more on Brown's assessment of Motorola's future:
- read this Financial Times article

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