Jan 28 AT 2:58 PM Taylor Wimberly 4 Comments

Motorola hints at Google phone and more in Q4 earnings call

Motorola reported their Q4 earnings today and revealed some interesting Android news. The company actually showed progress in transforming to a smartphone company and reported a profit for Q4, but issued a disappointing profit forecast for the start of 2010. Motorola shares are currently trading down nearly 10% on the NYSE, following the news.

I’m not a financial analyst, so lets look what we learned about Motorola’s Android plans. I’ve taken some quotes from Sanjay Jha and bolded them with my notes below.

“Our new devices have been well received by consumers, resulting in shipments of 2 million smartphones in the fourth quarter.”

Motorola shipped 2 million Android phones last year that included basically two models, the Droid (Milestone) and CLIQ (Dext). We did not get an exact breakdown of the units, but it has been reported that the Droid did well over a million and accounted for most of the smartphones sold.

“First, in smartphone, we plan to launch at least 20 devices, including at least one direct-to-consumer device with Google.”

This news comes with little surprise. We saw Sanjay at the Nexus One launch and already knew Motorola would sell a device in the Google phone store. Details about the device are still scarce, but rumors suggest it will be called the Motorola Shadow (see concept image above).

Sanjay had previously said that Motorola planned to release a “multiple of 10s” when referring to Android phones in 2010, so the 20 number is just clarifying a previous statement.

“All of our smartphone devices are readily upgradeable, subject only to hardware constraints. We work closely with our carrier customers to determine an appropriate and timely upgrade task for each device.”

I think that one pretty much explains itself. We know the CLIQ and Droid are getting updated to Android 2.1, but still do not have an official time frame for the release. Now that the Nexus One has shipped with Android 2.1, I think it is “appropriate” for Motorola to get on the ball and get the CLIQ off Android 1.5.

I’m not sure why Sanjay brought up hardware constraints again since we know the CLIQ will get updated. Maybe he was hinting at something else.

“CLIQ, BACKFLIP, and the majority of our new smartphone this year will feature MOTOBLUR. MOTOBLUR is our application and services suite that runs on Android platform.”

Nothing too new here. Motorola previously told us they wanted to include Motoblur on all their Android phones. The exceptions would be the Droid and whatever phone launches in the Google phone store. We think Google controls the software on those phones which is why they include stock Android.

“Some of our plans for MOTOBLUR include enhancements to address the prosumer segment of the market. These are users who pay for their own devices and use it for both of their personal and work lives. By expanding MOTOBLUR to offer additional security and device management functionality, we will address the need of this part of the market. We also plan to broaden the scope of MOTOBLUR by doing to multimedia what we did to social messaging by enabling users to share music, photos and other content in an interactive and dynamic way.”

This kind of reminds us of the Nexus One enterprise version that we heard Andy Rubin discuss with Walt Mossberg. Google has yet to market a phone towards the prosumer segment so maybe this is what he was talking about.

I’m still a little confused because we do not expect that devices sold in the Google phone store will include Motoblur, but maybe we are wrong.

“We expect to ship between 11 million to 14 million smartphones over the course of the year, with smartphones accounting for over 50% of our total sales this year.”

That is a pretty lofty goal considering Motorola just started making smartphones last year. However, Motorola will have at least 20 devices that span across an increasing number of countries. In the U.S., Motorola has agreements to sell Android phones with Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and now Google. I think we will also see Motorola Android phones on Sprint and Boost Mobile sometime in 2010.

“The range is really pretty broad. I think that — I won’t give you absolute numbers, but you have certainly above $400 and potentially getting below $200. That would be the range.”

This quote was Sanjay responding to the range of Android pricing. We know Motorola wants to bring Android as far down the feature phone chain as possible and we are still waiting for that sub $200 phone. This could be the LaJolla platform we have discussed or possibly the iDEN phone on Boost Mobile.

Note: Motorola has posted a full webcast of the earnings call for those who are interested.

Via: Forbes

Source: Seeking Alpha

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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