From RAZR-sharp to dull as lint

 

From RAZR-sharp to dull as lint
Motorola continues rearranging the deck chairs on its sinking ship, following last week's grim revenue forecast by filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission a realignment plan that splits the company into three divisions: Mobile Devices, Home and Networks Mobility and Enterprise Mobility Solutions. The latter will encompass voice and data communications for Motorola's government, business and public safety customers as well as subsume the recently acquired mobile software development unit Good Technology, previously part of the Mobile Devices group. In addition, Motorola named former integrated supply chain EVP Stu Reed the new president of the Mobile Devices division.

Of course, the reorganization fails to address Motorola's troubled mobile handset business in any meaningful way. The success of its RAZR device now seems like a lifetime ago, and while the RAZR 2 is still on tap for later this year, like all sequels the handset carries with it a whiff of desperation. Of course, it may never even reach retail, the fate that befell Motorola's now-abandoned MPx Windows Mobile Pocket PC device, or arrive fatally flawed, like the MOTOROKR music phone. At best, the RAZR 2 enters a marketplace where recalibrated consumer expectations demand that every new upmarket device deliver an experience bigger and bolder than Apple's iPhone--outsized projections for any company to face.

With Motorola CEO Ed Zander plainly on borrowed time, speculation now turns to who might lead the firm back from the brink. The smart money is on Michael Capellas, the former Hewlett-Packard chief who revived MCI WorldCom after Bernie Ebbers' penchant for fraud, conspiracy and Amish-style beard trimming left the carrier on life support. Rumors indicate that Capellas has already met with Motorola's board of directors to discuss a potential role with the company, and with Reed taking over the mobile device arm, there are few other spots for him to land except Zander's office. But whether it's Capellas or a player to be named later, Motorola clearly needs a jolt--not a sequel a la RAZR, but a fresh start with new characters and an original storyline. -Jason

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