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Motorola To Cut 4,000 Jobs, Focus On High-End Devices

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  • Diminishing returns? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:10AM (#40973287)

    Is there a race to the bottom in the sense that if all handset makers abandon the low-end market to focus on higher-margin smartphones, competition will increasingly erode those margins?

    FWIW if I were making smartphones, the overriding lesson I would take from the iPhone is "make just one model". It's high risk, but selling phones seems to be about marketing first and technology second, so putting all your marketing muscle behind one model doesn't seem like a bad idea.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:19AM (#40973411) Homepage Journal

      Nokia destroyed low end for other players in global scale..
      cheapest nokias are so cheap it's very hard to compete there. note that this was happening all last decade, siemens got ran to the ground.. sammys featurephones were in trouble most of the time. Motorola had an one off hit with the razr but that was their high point in featurephones.

      if you can buy a 101 for twenty-thirty euros.. what's there to compete? it's a supply and least parts necessary game. it's still a big business though.

      but you know what's funny? the smartphones we have today into which nobody has found any good features in couple of last years to tack on will be hundred bucks in couple of years. they're gonna have to come up with some really good gimmicks for the high end if they intend there to be a high end high margin market at all then.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:42AM (#40973791) Journal

        Imagine a world where you get home, pop your cell phone into a doc and bang you're running your phone as a full desktop with all the cpu/memory power+some of your current giant 500 watt system sitting under your desk, but it still has a standby battery life of days and full usage of hours.

        Then you feel like laying in bed and reading a book, you pop your phone out of the desktop doc and doc it in your 7-10" tablet device and bang you're running a tablet with all the same apps and data.

        It is coming.

        • by cduffy (652)

          The word you want is "dock". And yes, not even that far away -- the Asus PadFone [asus.com] shows a substantial chunk of the capabilities in question.

        • What I want is not a dock for my phone, but to have its screen be stretchable to adjust the resolution. Extend the canvas out for when you want that extra real estate, but collapse it back down when you want it to fit in your pocket.

          • by steelfood (895457)

            The limitations to human-facing computers is now the human interface. At this point, both input and output are in need of a significant technological leap. Only then will computing devices finish the miniaturization and unification that's the logical conclusion to the past century of technological progress. Until then, we'll continue to produce small devices that are portable but can't do much, and large devices that can do everything but are not portable at all.

            The idea of a dock is merely a stopgap measur

          • by ArsonSmith (13997)

            I was trying to use only current established or very near future tech. That would require something that isn't even in a mock up capability yet.

        • by fa2k (881632)

          I would want a system that's 100 times as powerful as my current desktop if it was available, so I'd just put 100 of these "superphone" processors in a case and have a nice desktop. And if you only browse the web and check email, the tech is pretty much there to replace your desktop with a phone anyway. You have HDMI out, and bluetooth keyboards and mice.

        • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:41PM (#40974483)

          It is coming.

          I have a different vision:
          You get home and your smart phone is already synced to your full desktop/laptop, so anything you did on the phone all day is available on your desktop/laptop.

          Then you are laying in bed with your tablet device, and it also is synced with your smart phone so you just start reading.

          The advantages of this approach are:
          1. When main device changes (in your example, the smartphone), all of your "docks" do not need to change.
          2. High-power devices can stay high-power and low-power devices can stay low. Using your phone to edit high-def video would be murderous.
          3. App and device manufacturers don't need to try and shoehorn their mobile OS and apps into a Desktop and vice versa.
          4. Not everyone in your household needs to own a "main device", and all of your devices are available to use at the same time.

          Disadvantages:
          1. App and device manufacturers need to figure out a way to sync everything up.
          2. Requires a network.
          3. Individual devices may cost a bit more due to the need for a CPU in each.

          In reality, I don't think the "brains" of a smart phone cost very much. I think far more cost is in the battery and screen. I think syncing is the way to go. It's a bit painful right now... even if you are 100% Apple not everything syncs. Google is great for keeping contacts, email, and calendars in sync. Firefox does a good job keeping browsers in sync. Amazon keeps all of your reading in sync. All of these companies are fighting for this space, and I don't really see many going for the route you envision.

        • Imagine a world where you get home, pop your cell phone into a doc and bang you're running your phone as a full desktop with all the cpu/memory power+some of your current giant 500 watt system sitting under your desk, but it still has a standby battery life of days and full usage of hours.

          Other than the insane battery requirement, I believe what you're looking for is Motorola's Webtop [wikipedia.org]

    • by tuppe666 (904118)

      Is there a race to the bottom in the sense that if all handset makers abandon the low-end market to focus on higher-margin smartphones, competition will increasingly erode those margins?

      FWIW if I were making smartphones, the overriding lesson I would take from the iPhone is "make just one model". It's high risk, but selling phones seems to be about marketing first and technology second, so putting all your marketing muscle behind one model doesn't seem like a bad idea.

      First of the "race to the bottom" is a phrase used by those promoting Apple to give the illusion that competing products are of inferior quality, due to Apple able to charge a massive mark-up to their inferior products. What really happens is good old competition, and price is just one of the things Apple competitors are able to compete on. Its why the same market has phones with Projectors; Game Pads; Waterproofing; Digital TV Receivers; With a massive array of different sized screens; CPU's and Memory, hi

    • The thing about the "high-end" market is that cost is less of an issue. If you're paying $800 for a smartphone or tablet, you want to make sure it does what you want. You're not desperate about saving $20 (if you are, you really shouldn't be spending $800 right now).

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:49AM (#40973871) Homepage

      Ugh - there is room in the market for phones that AREN'T cookie-cutter copies of each other. What if I want a smartphone with a small screen - nobody would call that a flagship phone so nobody would make that a single-product focus. How about a phone with a keyboard - most people don't want that, so nobody would make that their single product.

      The whole point of Android is that you actually get a choice. I don't want that to be a choice of 3 vendors who all make phones designed to look just like an iPhone...

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        What if I want a smartphone with a small screen

        I think this includes a grand total of one smart phone - the Sony Ericsson Xperia [thephonedatabase.com]. Xperia also has a version with a slide-out keyboard if that's your thing
        The market is so incredibly vibrant and diverse, that there is exactly one viable small-screen smartphone (that I know of).

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          I must have seen about a half-dozen fairly small screen smartphones at the local T-Mobile store. They also have some with more of a Blackberry-like form factor (well, at least how Blackberry used to make them). However, it all depends on your definition of small/etc.

          Bottom line is that variety is the spice of life, and I'd rather see more than less.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:51AM (#40973897) Homepage Journal

      It's high risk, but selling phones seems to be about marketing first and technology second, so putting all your marketing muscle behind one model doesn't seem like a bad idea.

      I have to disagree. Phones aren't "one size fits all." Unfortunately, too many phones from too many manufactuyrers are the same. It's hard to find a flip phone with decent fetures and a good camera you can fit in a pants pocket any more, and that's the phone I'm looking for. I'm also looking for a phone that I don't have to install apps to listen to the radio on -- I should be able to stream it from their web sites, just like I can with my computer.

      They still aren't selling the phone I want to buy, and the one I had closest to the one I want broke, and they stopped selling it. The new smartphones are all HUGE, and I just fucking hate it.

      Marketing isn't going to get me to buy a phone that doesn't do what I want or fit in my pocket.

      I like the fact that I can buy a small, cheap car with good mileage, or a damned Humvee if I want. I like that fact that there are more than one flavor of cheese. I like the fact that I can get many different flavors of Linux. I just can't fathom those who say "there are too many!!!! I can't choose!!!

      Next time you go shopping for a phone, just tell the salesman to pick one for you!

      Notice that Apple only makes one model of phone, and Samsung alone sells a lot more Androids than Apple sells iPhones (there's a slashdot story about that farther down on the front page)..

      • by MBCook (132727)
        There are serious economies of scale in doing that though. If you only produce on model, you can order a ton of each component. If each model has a different sized screen (for example) you can't order nearly as many. You also get economies of scale in marketing, because you don't have to try to push 10 different phones into people's minds, just one.
      • I just can't fathom those who say "there are too many!!!! I can't choose!!!

        They don't have enough time to evaluate all the options, including which one has enough of a user base around it that they'll be able to get support. Yet they don't trust the salesman's choice because they assume the ulterior motives considered typical of a salesman who gets paid on commission.

    • by mspohr (589790) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:07PM (#40974103)

      The NYT has a much better article:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/technology/motorola-to-cut-20-of-work-force-part-of-sweeping-change.html [nytimes.com]

      It does state that they will be reducing the number of models from 27 to "just a few".

      Also they are attempting to introduce a more "small start-up culture" to Motorola. They got rid of 40% of their vice presidents which has to be a very good start.

    • the overriding lesson I would take from the iPhone is "make just one model"...selling phones seems to be about marketing first and technology second.

      Then you would have learned exactly the opposite lesson Apple has been teaching the industry.

      Apple's success rests wholly on the skill they have at executing excellent technology. How else would they maintain market share against a vast array of competing devices, many cheaper? That only happens when customers are happy enough with a product to tell other pe

  • by sapphire wyvern (1153271) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:11AM (#40973307)

    According to TFA, they're shifting strategy to make fewer devices, which I hope will be better than the things they've been churning out.. I suppose this is Apple's strategy, which has certainly worked well for them.

    Hopefully a smaller product range will also allow for better after-market support. My phone is an Atrix, and I liked the hardware, but the software support has been lacklustre to say the least.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Hopefully a smaller product range will also allow for better after-market support. My phone is an Atrix, and I liked the hardware, but the software support has been lacklustre to say the least.

      If a company operates on the plan that no support is OK, maybe you'll buy a new one with fewer or at least different bugs, then cutting down the product line isn't going to help.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday August 13, 2012 @02:35PM (#40975999) Homepage Journal

      I suspect (and hope) that they're firing their programmers and keeping all the engineers. Motorola makes incredibly good radios, in my experience the best (my Motorola phones would get signals when nobody else there could get a signal), but their interfaces suck horribly.

      This makes sense, since they're now owned by Google and the phones will surely be Androids.

  • by eepok (545733) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:16AM (#40973373) Homepage

    I've made a couple posts in the past regarding how I don't think anyone has ever spent sufficient effort to make a genuinely good feature/dumb phone. Too much effort is put on super-monetization-- from proprietary versions of internet connectivity to downloading Java games, there's just too much bloat in even the simplest of modern phones.

    Here's what I would want from a proper modern feature phone:
    Hardware:
    **A telephone with a particularly good speaker and receiver, speaker phone
    **A slideout QWERTY keyboard
    **An MP3/Ogg/etc. player with equalizer and 3.5mm jack
    **A camera that focuses on image quality, not color mods
    **Bluetooth
    **micro-SD card slot
    **Alarm clock with calendar
    **Some standard ringers with the functionality to play a ringer from micro-SD
    **Chargeable by micro-USB cord
    **With all the weight saved, get a better/larger battery
    **Minimal animation/graphics. No need to burn battery on things NO ONE cares about.

    No web access, no pic sending, no games, no playing or recording video. Just Phone, text, camera, music, alarm, and long battery life. Something that just works and works for a long time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, and who wants one of those new Core i5 laptops, either. I want the good old days of a 386 with Windows 3.1!

      GET OFF MY LAWN

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      so you want a smartphone, that cant browse the web or install apps. this is a terrible idea.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I agree. I also just want a phone that do well a single task: Phone calls.

      I want a phone, not a useless toy.
      • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:56AM (#40973969)

        ...I also just want a phone that do well a single task: Phone calls. ...

        Easy: https://www.snapfon.com/index.php [snapfon.com]

      • Smart phones are replacing your desktop, GPS, wallet, voting machine, library, personal assistant, etc.

        It will get to the point wherr governments will supplement phones for the economic all ly disadvantaged, such as they are becoming de rigeur for membership in modern society

        What you are asking for is like asking for a PC that only plays Pong

      • by owlstead (636356) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:20PM (#40974235)

        Smartphones are not useless toys by any means. If you think that then I'm afraid your century has gone.

      • I want a phone that does 3 tasks:

        1. make phone calls
        2. easily tether to a tablet or laptop
        3. synchronize contacts and appointments with google (so that I can dial by name instead of number, and so that it can sound alarms for appointments)

        I want it to have an e-ink screen (max 2 lines of text; alphanumeric instead of bitmap is OK), 24-hour battery life, and be the same size and shape as a credit card (Ideally the same thickness too, but up to 5mm or so is OK).

      • You want a telephone, not a pocket computer. No need to be a dick about it.
        • You do not understand where I'm getting at... My problem is that if I want a quality phone (long battery life, sound quality, good engineering, etc.), I will be forced to buy a smartphone. Except that the "extras" in a smartphone are expensive and practically useless for those who simply want to make phone calls but do not want a cheapo chinese junk.

          And finally, consider that I live in a country where these "extras" are considered luxury, and therefore I am forced to pay four times more than you would pa
    • by Xest (935314)

      Many Nokia phones have offered pretty much everything on your list since 2001 or so with the release of the Nokia 7650.

      • by tepples (727027)
        Then please let me nudge the goalposts a bit to add one more criterion that Nokia products have historically not met:
        **Available in the United States, either as part of a contract or with a discount on the monthly bill for not taking a subsidized phone
    • I had this phone. It was called the LG enV3 [google.com]. It was awesome for everything you described, except the keyboard didn't slide out it folded out. The battery would readily last 3-4 days. It had good calendar features, chargeable by micro-USB, Bluetooth, etc. This thing was easily made 3 years ago.

      Now, I have an iPhone and I am not looking back. Being able to VPN back into work and run SSH from my phone is like magic. It is called progress, brother!

      • by eepok (545733)

        Thanks for the phone reference. In regards to the iPhone (or any smartphone), the saying goes, "I couldn't find a purpose for the iPhone until I had one. Now I can't live without it."

        That's not something I want. I don't want to VPN to work or check work emails when I'm out of the office. When I'm not at work, it's my time. I simply want a phone with communication with the people I choose to put in my circle with the bonus of not having to carry an MP3 player or camera with me. (Those things fold very easily

    • A camera implies a color screen. A color screen implies games. A camera also implies video recording. I see your point, but leaving out video recording if it can take pictures, and leaving out simple games from ANY phone, is just stupid.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      I tend to agree. However, UI optimization has to be the key.

      My wife is still using a 4 year old feature phone because the newer models are all inferior. Tasks she does often are buried in the menus (things like pull up contacts, send/read SMS, etc.). Stuff she doesn't care about is front-and-center, like browse the web, look for ringtones, and all that.

      It seems like the newer devices are just designed to get people who don't have data plans to accidentally pull a kilobyte of data here or there so they ca

      • by eepok (545733)

        I agree completely. I was holding onto a feature phone that was 3.5 years old because it was no longer available and everything else either requires a data plan or is touchscreen (which means I can't change tracks with the device in my pockets). I ended up "upgrading" to the touchscreen dumbphone. I'm not particularly happy with it, but that's what you have to do when you drop the phone down concrete stairs. =\

        And that's a damn fine point about the kilobyte-temptation.

    • by dell623 (2021586)

      I have no idea why some people, especially tech people who have completely different demands compared to most users, actually imagine that it's worthwhile for a company to make a phone to cater to their esoteric demands. The time of the N900 is past, smartphones are mainstream now, not mini Linux computers for geeks (though you can turn your android phone into one to an extent).

      Out of your requirements, only battery life matters to the average user.

      Have you tried a Blackberry? I still fondly remember the ke

      • by eepok (545733)

        I think my taste (and others of similar taste) is as such because we've had certain life experiences to make us more cautious about adopting certain kinds of technology. I, for one, don't want to pay for a data plan that I would do my damnedest not to use.

        I actually like using paper maps on the road (not GPS).

        I don't want to read email when I should be spending time paying attention to the people and places around me.

        I don't care if someone gave the eatery a 1-star rating on Yelp because the waitress only g

    • by fm6 (162816)

      You forgot the foremost requirement of any feature phone: it has to be really, really cheap. With low margins, nobody's going to spend a lot of money coming up with new designs. The only way to profit is to pick a tried-and-true design and run with it.

    • by grumpyman (849537) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:47PM (#40974563)
      You call this dumb phone? Seriously? QWERTY is for texting; MP3/Ogg is for music listening; a camera for picture. To me a dumb phone is telephone that makes voice call and maybe a call display.
    • by mypalmike (454265)

      **With all the weight saved, get a better/larger battery

      What weight savings? With a slideout keyboard, your so-called "dumb phone" (with high-quality camera, bluetooth, speakerphone, usb, and mp3/ogg playback!!!) will easily weight more than an iphone.

    • by m0nkyman (7101)

      Once it has all that, there's virtually no cost to adding the other stuff.

      What I'd like to see is a basic phone with large buttons, a small basic screen for call display and a minimal phone book. Make it built like a tank, along the lines of the old AT&T rental phones.

      A phone that is ONLY a phone.

    • by rubycodez (864176) on Monday August 13, 2012 @02:01PM (#40975569)

      that's still way too much unecessary crap. camera, mp3 player, sd-card slot, custom ring tones? you're confused, sonny boy, this is a god-dammned phone! keyboard for texting ok, because writing a sentence is better than wasting time yapping.no graphics at all are needed, a 4x25 line text display is plenty

    • No web access, no pic sending, no games, no playing or recording video. Just Phone, text, camera, music, alarm, and long battery life. Something that just works and works for a long time.

      Why does a feature phone even need a camera for? My grandma doesn't use the camera.

      Make the numbers really big, so that she can dial a number, without having first to ask her grandson. And please, just forget the qwerty keyboard and the mp3 player. She just needs a working cell phone, not a freaking jukebox.

  • Which is why I switched to a Nexus...pray tell, WHY does Moto not wanting me running a custom kernel that's not old and full of holes? I don't know, but the Droid2 was and will always be my last Moto phone until this changes.
  • Google has been partnering with Samsung and Asus for the Nexus brand. When will those partnerships come to and end as MOTO becomes fully Googled?
    • by oakgrove (845019)

      Google is supposedly expanding the Nexus line to at least 5 simultaneous devices in a few months. Maybe Moto will have something in there.

      My understanding was that Google was going to operate Motorola almost as an independent company so as to not step on the toes of their other OEMs. I would expect Motorola to have to go through the same selection process of Asus, Samsung and everybody else.

      • My understanding was that Google was going to operate Motorola almost as an independent company so as to not step on the toes of their other OEMs. I would expect Motorola to have to go through the same selection process of Asus, Samsung and everybody else.

        They can say that all they want but I don't really see how it would be possible. Google will have to compete directly with their partners at some level - there really is no way around that. Otherwise there was no point in buying Motorola Mobility unless they were just buying them for the patents and intend to shut down the manufacturing and design operations.

        • My understanding was that Google was going to operate Motorola almost as an independent company so as to not step on the toes of their other OEMs. I would expect Motorola to have to go through the same selection process of Asus, Samsung and everybody else.

          They can say that all they want but I don't really see how it would be possible.

          Its quite easy. You just appoint leadership to the Motorola division, and then Google deals with them for most purposes just like they would any other hardware manufacturer.

          Go

          • by sjbe (173966)

            Its quite easy. You just appoint leadership to the Motorola division, and then Google deals with them for most purposes just like they would any other hardware manufacturer.

            It's not easy because there is no credible way for Motorola to compete successfully without Motorola's competitors presuming Google is giving them a leg up. The only way they will believe it is if Motorola behaves incompetently. And it Motorola is behaving incompetently Google's shareholders can, will and should throw a fit. Either they compete successfully and piss off their OEMs or they compete badly and piss off their shareholders.

            The simple fact is that Motorola cannot be the same as any other manufa

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:38AM (#40973721)

    1: Make one or two really good smartphones per year one of which should be of the "prime quality" status.

    2: Do not ever lock up the boot loader. In fact make it easy for geeks to do whatever they want with the device.

    3: Get rid of the so called MotoBlur or make it an option.

    4: Make the phone a real beauty to look at. It should capture one's attention out of the box, i.e. by default. Google for some mock-up images. There are plenty.

    5: Make it rugged that a small fall still leaves it working.

    6: Make it easy for users to return defective devices, do not let the media define your product unless their definition is in your favor.

    7: Advertise, advertise, advertise.

    • by cmburns69 (169686)

      3: Get rid of the so called MotoBlur or make it an option.

      Forget all the others, just do this! (I have an Atrix, so I have at least some experience with this)

    • 4: at the very least, stop cutting the corners off all of the phone designs. It seems like a poor attempt at looking futuristic, but it's just awful. Ugly ugly crap. Go back to the 2011 phone designs if necessary. The Droid X wasn't this ugly.

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      On '3'...have you ever used Blur? Don't make it an option... >;-D

      Otherwise, I've got to agree with all your 7 points.

  • There was a story this weekend about google paying 50% wages to surviving partners/family for several years.
  • I bought a motorola feature phone a couple of years ago, and it was a piece of crap. I bought it because it had an USB port for charging (and bought the wrong cable at a flea market). the keypad was incredibly bad, worse than toy phones for children. then it just died. they cut too many corners and a Nokia or Samsung feature phone was exponentially better. (the motorola F3 was nice a few years before though, ironically it was meant for the 3rd world and thus that one was high quality)

  • It's Official? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dripdry (1062282) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:20PM (#40974233) Journal

    A couple clients who are higher up in MMI told me about this just before the google buyout. I guess I can say something now?

    This has been planned from the get-go, and it will weed out some inefficiency and bring in more of the "Google Culture" and clear out what most know is by-now pretty broken model at Motorola. On the whole, it sounds like a LOT of people are happy about this (from what I've heard). The people leaving will get some pretty good buyout packages, if I understand it right.

    So, no need to panic. I'm interested in hearing other opinions, though.

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      That was the general consensus when I talked with the people at Libertyville when I was one of their supplier's FAE's. I doubt that's changed any.

  • I had a Atrix, and ditched it for an N9 it was so bad. I love the N9 even though it's not as fancy as Android. Yesterday I was watching someone use MotoBlur at a party is it was still jarring after not seeing it for months. The degree of emotional response surprised even me, it wasn't my phone any longer yet I cringed, then felt sorry for the user.

    On top of that, Motorola just had too many products to ever be able to support them right. How it takes over a year to port to ICS is beyond me, when may of the c

  • by kimvette (919543) on Monday August 13, 2012 @01:28PM (#40975073) Homepage Journal

    Good-bye Moto

  • Great another fucking apple wannabe, except they're only going to sell their over priced chinese slave made hardware to billionaires?

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