Motorola held their quarterly earnings call today and CEO Sanjay Jha revealed lots of new Android information. Among the news, was the first report that Motorola would produce Android phones for the iDEN network. Prepaid phones have continued to perform well and carriers are hungry for new phones that would allow them to attach more data plans.
After beating analysts predictions for Q2, Motorola’s stock jumped nearly 10% on Thursday. One of biggest successes for their mobile division was the new iDEN Clutch i465 which is sold on Sprint’s Boost Mobile unit. Analysts have concluded that as much as a third of Motorola’s handset sales were due to Boost Mobile, who had 938,000 net customer additions last quarter.
Boost Mobile offers phones with prepaid plans. They currently offer a flat rate plan for $50 with unlimited minutes, text, and data. After the last quarter they now have 4.4 million subs. Nearly every phone they offer is built by Motorola with prices ranging from $49-299. Boost Mobile originally began as a division of Nextel which is why they operate on the Sprint/Nextel iDEN network.
Sanjay Jha, Motorola CEO, said “In iDEN we will continue to refresh the portfolio, which will also include Android-based devices. We continue to have pretty good traction with iDEN and with the recent renewed focus from Sprint on prepaid, we have a pretty good market share with Sprint in prepaid and we’re improving our relationships with not just Sprint, but every single North American carrier across the portfolio.”
Motorola will only be launching 2 Android phones this holiday season, but expects to make Android their focus for 2010. Jha expressed his desire to bring Android to the low end phones. “Our core strategy really is to take Android and take Android to as low down the feature phone tier, as we possibly can, by bringing in Smartphone features, best of Internet, best of messaging, best of multi-media, best of location services.”
These low end Android phones will still offer a robust internet experience. When asked about how low end phones would differ from the high end Jha responded, “I suspect that in both of them you need to provide sufficient capabilities that there is a probability, a high probability of attach rate of data plan. I expect that you would see some tiering of data plans and data plan for low end and high end will be different. We’re actually quite focused on working with carriers to make sure that we could enable for that to occur, so that even in the low end Android Smartphones carriers can get data plan and have an ability to subsidize those devices a little more aggressively.”
It will be really interesting to see what type of experience these low end phones will offer. Motorola repeatedly emphasized their close relationship with Google and I would not be surprised if they were working together on a lite version of Android for feature phones. Android engineers expressed at Google I/O that the G1 was the lowest device they considered when coding for performance. Anything less would be too slow to run Android the way it was intended.
No exact time frame was given for these low end phones, but they should arrive next year. It is critical to Motorola’s turnaround that they bring Android to the lower level. Smartphones make more money, but are just a small percentage of the overall handset market. Jha left no doubt that Android is the primary focus for 2010. He said they were “making sure that we can bring the price points of those devices as low as possible in a profitable way. If we don’t break even in 2010 I’d be disappointed.”
Android on Boost Mobile: Where ya at?