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Motorola To Split In Two 91

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Motorola plans to reorganize itself into two independent publicly held companies by the first quarter of 2011. The first company will own the Motorola brand and will include Motorola's mobile handset unit and home set-top box business. This new company will focus on the 'three screens' lifestyle envisioned by carriers like AT&T and Verizon, where customers would watch content on TV, on their computers, and on their mobile phones. The other company emerging from the split will include Motorola's wireless networking business and its enterprise radio systems operations. The wireless networking business would likely be sold off, leaving the second company with its profitable enterprise radio systems business, which generated $7 billion of the company's $22 billion in sales in 2009."
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Motorola To Split In Two

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  • by RCL ( 891376 ) <rcl,rs,vvg&gmail,com> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:02PM (#31127454) Homepage
    When Motorola was a processor brand. And a good one. Ehh...
  • Hmm, maybe the second company will start working with Apple and competing against its former self?

  • by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <{kurt555gs} {at} {}> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:15PM (#31127548) Homepage

    Motorola forgot that the reason people bought their products was because they were the best in the world. Not the cheapest. The best. When Galvin Sr. ran the company, Motorola radios were the finest on Earth. Motorola brought us the 1st transistor TV, Quasar, the G4 chip was great. Iridium was a great idea, ruined by Galvin Jr. When Motorola was run by engineers, it thrived, even though it's products were usually the most expensive in the industry. Once the accountants and stock swindlers got hold of it, there was a race to the bottom, and this is the end result. The MBA's just can not conceive that people will pay for quality and innovation. Being cheapest, cutting R&D, Ugh, I could go on, but I think you know what I mean.

    So long Motorola! It was a good run.

    • by samkass ( 174571 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:21PM (#31127614) Homepage Journal

      I'm not sure why you say this split in particular is the end-- Motorola has done this sort of thing a couple times already. In fact I work for a division of General Dynamics that was once Motorola. There's also Freescale, which used to be Motorola's microprocessor unit. They seem to like being a certain size and when they grow beyond it they divide.

      • by kent_eh ( 543303 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:01PM (#31127920)

        They seem to like being a certain size and when they grow beyond it they divide.

        That may be incredibly wise of them.
        I've worked for a couple of companies who started off very innovative and did a lot of smart things until they grew above a certain size. Then they became bloated, bureaucratic and stopped innovating. And the bigger they got the more concerned with internal processes they became, yet the less profitable they became.
        I've lived inside that twice, and I've seen it happen to countless other companies.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Hurricane78 ( 562437 )

          There’s an obvious reason for that: Humans are not made to live in huge hierarchies. We are made to live in small groups of people, where everybody knows everybody. (Example [])

          As soon as things become half-anonymous, or people do not actually participate in any decisions anymore, it stops working. The one on top will then only care for themselves, as they are the only ones that seem “real”. The one on the bottom will “just do his job”, not really caring for the company anymore.


        • by rwyoder ( 759998 )

          Then they became bloated, bureaucratic and stopped innovating. And the bigger they got the more concerned with internal processes they became, yet the less profitable they became.

          I worked at Motorola for 3 years in the mid-90's.
          You just described it perfectly.
          It was clear that they considered the primary product to be bureaucracy and paperwork.
          Doing actual work was something you had to do on your own time in the evenings.
          After 3 years I could not take the BS any more and fled screaming.

          • The splitting doesn't help with that. After the split the parts are still as bureaucratic as the original company was. None of the wasteful processes, none of the paperwork, none of the ineffective executives were eliminated.
    • by DrDitto ( 962751 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:32PM (#31127688)
      Iridium was a terrible idea devised by engineers with an ill-thought out business plan. The business model could *never* succeed by simple math (i.e., the max capacity of the Iridium system was so small that it could really never be profitable). The worst part of Iridium was that it was an engineering drain on the rest of the company. Some of our best cellphone engineers got sucked into making cellular plug-in cards for Iridium handsets.

      BTW-- I used to work for Motorola as a software engineer on handsets. It was a lousy experience.
      • "I used to work for Motorola as a software engineer on handsets. It was a lousy experience."

        Could you explain further? What happened that cause Motorola's inability to make sensible decisions?

        The Motorola V3 Razr phone was successful until owners discovered the screen was open to dust and moisture, the manual was terrible, and the help messages were unhelpful. I noticed that Motorola cell phones became much less popular after the Razr.
        • The Motorola V3 Razr phone was successful until owners discovered the screen was open to dust and moisture, the manual was terrible, and the help messages were unhelpful.

          Sounds like you've got your personal bones to pick. The truth is that the RAZR (V3 is just one model number, for the original) is just another rehash of the Motorola Triplets phones, AKA V3xx, V5xx, V6xx. It's got essentially the same hardware, and essentially the same failings, mostly centered around the crap OS that Motorola used for these models. You want screen open to dust and moisture? Try any of the cheaper Nokia offerings (e.g. 6xxx). I got a hair in between my screen and screen cover in week one, p

    • by fl!ptop ( 902193 )

      Motorola forgot that the reason people bought their products was because they were the best in the world.

      No doubt. When I was into amateur radios in the '70s and '80s, their products were always known for quality, durability and reliability. Anyone who owned a Motorola hand-held knew that, if you were being mugged, you could probably beat your attacker down with your radio and then still be able to use it to call for help.

      Hell, my 1st-gen razor has fallen off my hip while i was riding my motorcycle and it

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kurt555gs ( 309278 )

      Oh, I forgot, the 68000. The best computer chip of the era!

    • MBA = Masters in Business Atrophy

      I see the appointment of a pure MBA (without any background in what that company makes as a product)to CEO as the sign to get ready to cash out after they do their "Short Term Gain, Long Term Loss" changes that spike the the stocks value and then nosedive it down when there is realization that the cost saving changes hurts the company the most in areas that previously made it successfully.

      I swear some of these MBA's read Dilbert to get "good" ideas from Dogbert and the PHB.

    • Yaesu (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:56PM (#31128390) Homepage Journal

      Motorola owns Yaesu. Actually, it owns "Vertex Standard" and Yaesu is a division of it, thus the newer Yaesu logo which is a stylized "VS". I guess this is going with the enterprise radio division.

      Obviously hams have been nervous that Motorola would kill Yaesu since the purchase happened. I don't see any reason to be less nervous.

      • I didn't know that. Interesting. I've got a bunch of Vertex radios in the boat and a some Yaesu gear in my ham shack. Hmm. Well, they should keep working even if the company goes belly up.

        "May you live in interesting times" --- apocryphal Chinese curse
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by timholman ( 71886 )

      The MBA's just can not conceive that people will pay for quality and innovation.

      What really destroyed Motorola, IMO, was Six Sigma. Motorola was one of the the first U.S. companies to get sucked into that MBA fad, and it ruined them.

      Six Sigma, if left unchecked, quickly becomes the all-consuming passion of every mid-level manager. All of management's efforts go into the bean-counting involved in keeping track of how corporate processes are constantly "improving". You stop watching the competition, and wh

      • by NateTech ( 50881 )

        The Malcolm Baldridge Award and the chasing of same is also why you no longer see "Texaco" on any gas stations anymore. One of the world's best brands, laid low by their own inward navel-gazing.

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      The MBA's just can not conceive that people will pay for quality and innovation.

      I think this is an artifact of being thinking beings. People cannot conceive of anybody smarter than they. Similarly, they cannot conceive of innovations that they have not seen or experienced.

      MBAs are not trained to innovate. They are trained to deal with what is. MBAs do a great job at dealing with commodity businesses - those where innovation isn't nearly as important as streamlining and efficiency. Want to run a steel foundr

      • by NateTech ( 50881 )

        Don't forget their giant egos, which create a political and interpersonal scenario where anyone who disagrees with them, gets run over by the Freight Train of Quality.

    • The MBA's just can not conceive that people will pay for quality and innovation.

      I'm a recent MBA. I've also had a long software development career. I've done a bit of assembly language (6502, 68K, x86, PPC, ...) and 68K was my all-time favorite. I used to have the typical arrogant engineer's disdain of anything business related. I loved business school in part because I loved learning how wrong I was. I used more advanced math in marketing classes than in BS and MS computer science. Most of my marke

  • Which division is going to end up owning those massive headsets with the gigantic batwing logos that they hand out to NFL head coaches?

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      No, that's actually a stupid question. It's right in TFS:

      "...The other company emerging from the split will include Motorola's wireless networking business and its enterprise radio systems operations."

  • Woohoo! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 )

    Thanks Motorola, AT&T and Verizon. I can now watch TV on three... THREE whole screens. What a lifestyle those guys will allow me.

    ok. let me put it this way. TV is shit. It is soul sucking garbage of the shallowest most inane kind.

    If this is all the "executives" can come up with, the company is better off dead. Kill it. Kill it before the USA becomes known as the Zombie Nation.


    • Kill it before the USA becomes known as the Zombie Nation.

      I believe you mean Zombieland [].

      • I subscribe to the theory that the things in movies which are most disturbing to people are reflections of the society of the time. Zombies in movies represent the unthinking masses who do nothing but consume the flesh and brains of the survivors, never question their reality or existence and have a desire to destroy anything different or that which they can't understand. The irony being of course that most of the people who go to zombie movies could be considered part of the unthinking mass.

        I don't think i

    • Kill it before the USA becomes known as the Zombie Nation.

      I fear it’s a little late for that, buddy. ^^

    • I don't see what TV has to do with this. The future I'm seeing is one in which I have two, maybe three computers, and two, maybe three screens, any one of which can be plugged into another. If I want to watch a 1080p program that's on my phone, I'll dock my phone at a big screen. If I want to have a portable machine, I'll take my laptop, which might just be a phone dock with a keyboard and a screen.

      Alternately, I'll just plug my keyboard into my phone if all I'm doing is notetaking. With that kind of setup,

    • by NateTech ( 50881 )

      Too late.

  • by DeathOverlord3 ( 645635 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:28PM (#31127660)

    I think you mean Motorola is further splitting themselves up after having spun off its semiconductor components division as On Semi in 1999 and its semiconductor products division as Freescale (arguably the 'real' Motorola - inventor of the 68000 uP) in 2004. Motorola at this point is just an uninspired electronics company with little to no relevance in consumer handheld devices that also makes crummy radios and network products.

    • by ishobo ( 160209 )

      The real Motorola is the radio business (car radios, walkie-talkies, base stations, repeaters, etc). The company's first product was a car radio (hence the name Motorola) and they invented the walkie-talkie under a contract with the U.S. War Department. They only got into the semiconductor business to supply their own needs, and did not start producing products for others until 40 years after its founding.

    • by kybred ( 795293 )

      arguably the 'real' Motorola - inventor of the 68000 uP

      Don't forget the 6800 []!

      BTW, get off my lawn!

  • Stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RobNich ( 85522 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:29PM (#31127666) Homepage

    I think this is an incredibly stupid decision. Motorola has sold off pieces of their business for cash over the years (spun off their IC division yet continued to buy ICs), while they also acquired other companies for various reasons.

    Internally, the company's processes are woefully out of date, considering the ability of competitors like Nokia and Samsung to get products out the door. Splitting the company is not going to solve that.

    As a consumer, Motorola has burned me too many times. Their philosophy seems to revolve around putting out as many products as possible, instead of supporting and increasing functionality in their existing product line. When you bought a Motorola handset in the past, you essentially bought a car--closed to the world, no software upgrades, and if you want a slight improvement, you must buy a new one. Contrast that with Apple, who continue to provide updates to their original hardware for years. Look at the resale value of Apple devices in all categories!

    Phones are hardware, but the software is key. Motorola took years to realize that, and there are still plenty of people working for the company that have the wrong attitude in this regard. People like flashy hardware, but if the software is buggy and lacking functionality, they will turn to a new source.

    Apple has very few products in their handset line, and they sell plenty of them. They also sell wireless networking equipment, and set-top boxes (Apple TV). They currently build, or at least commission, their own ICs (A4 processor). Apple is going stronger than ever. It seems that Motorola's executive leadership are about 5 years behind the times, not on top of the market like they should be. If they weren't so far behind, they would have seen the need for a decent software platform in 2002, and they would see Apple as an example that a multifaceted company can do well in business.

    Instead, they milked the RAZR for years, and invested the money it earned in the other businesses, such as the acquisition of Symbol. Then once the mobile device devision was languishing, they wanted to split it away from the "profitable" business!

    • by kent_eh ( 543303 )

      Phones are hardware, but the software is key.

      Actually if either is crap then the whole thing is not worth owning.
      A phone with a crap radio is not usable just like one that randomly locks up it's UI.

      On the other hand, they could concentrate on their strengths, and manufacture RF chipsets for third parties.
      Then someone who's focus is software or UI or slick packaging can focus on what they do well, and have a chance of turning out a solid end product.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SMOKEING ( 1176111 )

      > Phones are hardware, but the software is key. ... but if the software is buggy and lacking functionality,
      > they will turn to a new source.

      There is a big community around Motorola mobiles (,, For each of their architectures (P2K, MOTOMAGX, EZX), there is a good deal of mods, flashes, skins, language packs, all things software existing in all possible colours and varieties, eventually bumping into the hardware limits. And all of it works.

      I bought my L7 back

      • by RobNich ( 85522 )

        While Apple fights it, they put out solid hardware and software. They continue to update the product line, even though they've already sold the older products and have no direct financial gain from it. Why do they continue to support those products? Because consumers remember that, and are willing to buy products that they know Apple will update, rather than abandon.

        I'm not talking about aftermarket mods, but your characterization of it is flawed: not all of it works, in fact much of it does not work. Espe

        • It appears we put accents differently.

          > but a software update after you purchase it would be nice
          I believe P2K phones had no directly user-accessible way to apply any updates (well, except rebooting with * and # held pressed etc), and hence, no updates were ever made available. Anyway, the relative simplicity of the underlying OS wouldn't warrant all the trouble of enabling the update mechanism. That is, once the device has been tested in 2006, it will work until the end of time. But, with Android, I do

  • ... because I *really* like Motorola cell phones. They've always been tanks. My current one is 4 years old, almost 5,000 hours, and has been dropped (and smashed by one angry perp I caught on video who tried to "destroy the evidence") onto concrete.

    The weak point was the plug at the bottom for the charger - it stopped working properly a few weeks ago. 10 minutes with the point of a kitchen knife to scrape off the accumulated gunk and it's good as new!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gnalle ( 125916 )

      I once had a Motorola razor phone, and the user interface was horrible. The menu tree was too deep, and it was often difficult to guess which submenu contained which menu item.

      I am for one not surprised that the company ended up in trouble.

      • by dbcad7 ( 771464 )
        Depends which Razor.. I had one on T-Mobile and I thought the UI, though not great, was ok.. when my moms phone quit working on her I got her a Razor for a replacement.. She is on Sprint.. I absolutely hated the Sprint versions UI.. If I had known it, I wouldn't have gotten it for her.
        • by gnalle ( 125916 )
          I am not sure which version I had. I bought the phone on e-bay, and it didn't live long.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I know some people who work in Motorola's mobile devices. Two things that I learned that really stuck with me are:

        - Sometime in the 90's carriers took over design of the UI. Its one of the reasons (probably not the only one) that it took an outsider (Apple) to kick the mobile industry in the pants.
        - Motorola is a hardware company. Software is secondary to the company. This is why the Razor was a success - it was all size and form factor - hardware considerations.

        The odd part about this is it seems like

    • Anecdotes go only so far.
      I've got a HTC Himalaya somewhere which also was abused a lot. It must be 6 years old now, was equipped with WM2003 back then but works even with WM6. Had to replace the battery twice, but other than that it just works.

    • Disclosure: I am a current Motorola Home employee, but I have no insider insights into the split planning process.

      This is speculation on my part, but it seems like both halves of the company may take on new names. However, the Mobile Devices/Home company will own the Motorola brand and license it royalty-free to the Government/Enterprise/Networks half of the company. (This was included in the public announcement on Thursday.) It will be messy, but it will allow both halves to carry on for a while while (pot

      • All I know is that there are a lot of us who like the brand. Back when the first RAZRs came out, I knew someone who had been on an incompatible network for a decade - $800 a month was his usual cell-phone bill - they couldn't carry the RAZR, so he went out and bought one ($1k) and switched networks.

        *THAT* is brand loyalty.

  • Slow disintegration (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I worked for Motorola for five years back in better times.

    This summary is from

    ... Iridium filed for bankruptcy in 1999 caused Semiconductor Components Group, (standard analog and standard logic devices) to spin off the ON Semiconductor

    ...declines in business during 2000 and 2001 caused Motorola to spin off its Government Electronics Division (GED) to General Dynamics.

    ...October 16, 2003 ... spun off its Semiconductor Products Sector [IC's/microprocessors etc.] into F

  • 2008 news (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Motorola to split, shocking news unfolding ...

    They hired Sanjay Jha from Qualcomm in 2008 with express intent of making him head of the cellphone company to split off. In fact Jha's contract has stipulations that he would get a buttlaod of money as compensation if this does not happen.

  • Symbol to be egested (Score:3, Informative)

    by El Royo ( 907295 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:29PM (#31128144) Homepage
    This isn't really too surprising. When they purchased Symbol Technologies [] they were making a play for the wireless networking IP. I really didn't think they were very interested in holding on to the bar code scanning end of that business. Symbol is a big player in my industry so I'm very interested to see how those technologies get split up. I suppose we'll be getting much better details soon (or maybe I could have RTFA).
    • the planned split is in two: the Moto name goes with cell phones and consumer.

      The other part is enterprise radios plus the wireless biz...

      With the expectation that wireless will be spun out as soon as they can find someone gullible enough...

      Poor Symbol -- when Moto bought them they had dreams of World Domination -- after all, now they had the financial and technical backing of Moto, right? What a surprise to find out that they're on an even shorter financial leash, and expected to pay tribute to thei
  • Sounds more like dumping a shit (the unprofitable parts of the company), and walking away...

  • ...for AT&T (where other companies came in and swooped up the remnants of the failed split) and Palm and Motorola's previous split.

    It's the standard Icahn strategy: split the companies to make the shareholders more short-term money, at the expense of a lasting (and ultimately more profitable) presence in the industry. The pieces will wither until they get scooped up for pennies.

  • They put out poor to mid-quality radios, with a solid one here or there, with a large number used in public entities and paid for with taxpayer money...and then the cash rolls in as they force dealers and users to buy updated programming software every time they turn around (ok, you get updates for a year, but just about the time your subscription runs out, is when someone walks through the door with an updated radio firmware version that you can't program with the software you just paid hundreds of dollars

  • Remember when HP spun off Agilent? They basically sold their soul to in the name of becoming a cash generating machine. No one I know associates HP with innovation anymore. It will be sad if the same comes to pass with Motorola.

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