Bye Bye Moto

Is what many Motorola Labs employees will be saying in a few days time thanks to the culling of 150 engineers of the approx 600 total in the R&D division. There will also be 180 reassignments to other divisions. There are pros and cons to this but I don’t think it’s reasonable to blame one of the most creative R&D departments in the telecoms industry. The reg picks up on the story here. However, the reg misses a trick. The innovation from Moto R&D is often way ahead of the released products but the actual products launched have often been somewhat disapointing. Niggly bugs etc. It wasn’t just the late Geoffrey Frost who brought about the RAZR models that arguably saved the company (stay of execution?.The engineering worked with the packaging to produce a quite satisfying phone. The sad thing is that Motorola could have produced the iPhone based on their R&D but they haven’t. If Carl Icahn wants to put anything in place at Motorola it should be a longer term view which could yield a sustainable company rather than a vain hope of finding the next RAZR. There’s more money and value to be created in the long run from this. Don’t give someone a band-aid when they’ve just cut off their arm.
Of course with the closure/sale/reorg/whatever of the mobile phone division in 2009 it’s hard to think long term. It’s easy to lay off staff to cut costs. It’s easier to close or sell off divisions to cut losses. However, building a successful company that knows and taps its niches requires vision, leadership and a strategy that can be articulated. Steve Jobs gave that to Apple. Motorola should take a good look at the Apple board and consider how the fruit company’s management team have consistently delivered over the past few years. Not just great financial performance but innovative and beautiful products. Consistency of software, hardware, design, packaging; functionality and elegance. Which in many ways the RAZR had.