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Moto consolidates phones, dumps UIQ Symbian

Motorola is cutting down on its chip vendors and software platforms to gain greater efficiency as it continues to see market share suffer.

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Coming off a net loss of $397 million in the third quarter, Motorola has delayed plans for the spinoff of its handset division and instead announced a complete overhaul of development and manufacturing in the unit in an effort to gain greater efficiency and cut costs. As part of this strategy, Moto revealed today is cutting 20 disparate platforms down to a handful, realigning its chipset partnerships and slashing the number of operating systems its handsets will run on to just three, led by Google’s Android. Among the OSs being dumped is UIQ-Symbian, which Moto made a heavy investment in earlier this year.

“We have had inconsistent product planning and too much complexity in our product platforms and system architecture,” said Sanjay Jha, Motorola co-CEO and recently appointed head of the company’s handset division, on today’s earnings conference call. He said that Moto today has more than 20 combinations of software, silicon and user interface platforms, while its competitors have far fewer. This has resulted in high costs and portfolio gaps in important market segments like 3G, smartphones and the very low tier.

Moto’s earnings included a 15% fall in sales to $7.48 billion. The fourth-largest manufacturer shipped 25.4 million handsets this quarter, down more than 30% from the 37.2 million shipped this time last year. Moto has released a slew of new devices in the past few months, but has been rapidly losing market share to smartphones and more feature-rich handsets.

To simplify its phone business and fill in the gaps, Moto will now hone in on Windows Mobile, Android and P2K, its proprietary Linux-based platform used in Moto feature phones. Moto announced similar consolidations plans back in April, but one of the key components at that time was to make UIQ a key OS in its portfolio. Moto took a 50% stake in UIQ, the Sony Ericsson-owned software firm that developss user interfaces for Symbian phones, in October of last year. Nokia then created the Symbian Foundation, which will incorporate UIQ andS60 into a single Symbian UI. The vendor appeared to be a key partner in Nokia’s new OS venturebut has reversed its plans to instead throw its chips in with Nokia’s competitors, Microsoft and Google’s Android.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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