Motorola exec: Product strategy won't change after Google acquisition

BARCELONA, Spain--Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI)  does not expect to change its product strategy in the aftermath of the close of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) $12.5 billion acquisition of the company, a senior Motorola executive said. 


Alain Mutricy, Motorola's senior vice president of portfolio and product management, told FierceWireless in an interview here at Mobile World Congress that Motorola will not alter its plans once it comes under the Google "umbrella." Google's acquisition of Motorola has been approved by regulators in the United States and European Union but has not officially closed.

Mutricy said that until the deal closes, Motorola and Google are separate companies and that because of antitrust rules there has been extremely limited discussion between the two firms. He said Motorola will continue as a separate brand and a subsidiary of Google, and he doesn't think there will be many changes to Motorola's product roadmap this year.

"I don't see a very short term, complete change of the product direction," he said. "I think that we have a business to run, and therefore I think that there is continuity to be expected for 2012."

Andy Rubin, Google's senior vice president in charge of mobile, said  he is aware of the concerns that Google will favor Motorola, but stressed that Google has "literally built a firewall" between the Android team and Motorola. Mutricy said it is in Motorola's interest to keep Android open. However, Mutricy said that having closer collaboration on Google services such as Google+ and YouTube could be an opportunity.

In the interview, Mutricy also touched on several other topics, and said Motorola had made a conscious decision to slim down its product portfolio in early 2011 but only declared it was doing so in January 2012. "We want to be mindful on the frequency of product replacement," he said. "It's a balance between consumer demand and competitive pressure, to be clear."

Mutricy said that the company's Webtop application, which allows users to connect their Motorola devices to docks and give them desktop browsing and other features, "is still our innovation from a  technology standpoint." However, he noted that it didn't find the success that the company was expecting because the productivity suite available on Android was not as robust as it should have been, and so enterprises did not adopt it heavily. He also said that the product was not effectively marketed to people who use web applications such as Facebook and email heavily. "We're refining the value proposition and the marketing of the Webtop application," he added.

The Motorola executive also said that the company is committed to tablets but has not put a lot of marketing dollars into the devices. He also said the first Android Honeycomb tablets were "not ready for prime time" in terms of apps or services. Mutricy said that the flood of Honeycomb tablets from Asian vendors last year were not all of the best quality, and that consumers could not understand whether the software was the problem or the hardware. That rush of inconsistent products at a wide range of price points undercut Android tablets, he said. "Because Android opened so quickly, the vast number of competitors in my view actually decreased the value of Android in the mind of consumers," he said. Still, Mutricy said Motorola is upgrading its tablets--Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) recently launched the LTE-enabled Xyboard tablets, for example.

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