What makes him powerful: After joining Motorola in 2003, Brown became CEO of the troubled handset maker on Jan. 1. Prior to that, he served as president and COO under former CEO Ed Zander. He became Co-CEO in August after Motorola finally found a new executive to head its ailing devices unit. Sanjay Jha was named CEO of the mobile devices unit and co-CEO of Motorola with Brown.
Among his many accomplishments at Motorola, Brown led the $3.9 billion acquisition of Symbol Technologies, the second largest transaction in Motorola's history and an important strategic move to strengthen Motorola's enterprise offering. Additionally, Brown returned the automotive business to profitability and subsequently led the divestiture of that business, selling it to Continental for $1 billion.
The first half of 2008 has been difficult for Brown and Motorola. The company continues to lose market share, shipping just 28.1 million handsets during second quarter, a decrease of 21 percent from the first quarter. However, it has maintained its stature as the third largest maker of cell phones behind Nokia and Samsung.
Brown has a huge task ahead of him--he must turn around the company that has been in turmoil for several quarters. Brown acknowledged in the spring that Motorola had to expand its 3G lineup of phones.
Analysts have praised Brown for luring Jha away from Qualcomm to serve as co-CEO and head of the mobile devices unit. Jha, a well-known wireless industry executive, was considered a rising star at Qualcomm where he was the firm's COO. Avian Securities Analyst Matt Thornton said that establishing new leadership in Motorola's handset business should help improve morale and slow the exodus of talent in the ailing division.
Plus there have been reports recently that Motorola is making a significant financial bet on Google's Android operating system, which might help turn around the ailing handset unit.
Brown's task to restore Motorola to its leadership position may be formidable but he seems to be making some smart moves that could prove worth watching in the year ahead.