To be clear, Google hasn’t made Motorola profitable yet. Despite the redirecting of Motorola’s efforts, laying off nearly 16,000 employees and selling off Motorola’s cable box division Motorola has yet to have a profitable quarter since Google purchased the company for $12.5 Billion. Motorola has thrown in the towel on the tablet market, and has begun to focus exclusively on smartphones. Eventually Google will lead Motorola to profitability, but can Google impart its innovative spirit to dying electronics manufacturer?
Motorola will always hold a special place in my heart because the first smartphone I ever owned was the original Motorola Droid. Not only was it vastly superior to the current iteration of the iPhone but I was also simultaneously introduced to smartphone technology and to the flexibility and power of Android.
As most of you know things took an ugly turn for Motorola after that. Lackluster marketing, mediocre specs, unreliable hardware and increasingly stiff competition from HTC and Samsung combined to push Motorola into a distant third spot among Android manufacturers. The Motorola Zoom was an overpriced Honeycomb tablet that never sold in significant numbers. From there on out things went from bad to worse. Despite Motorola actually taking some big risks with devices like the Atrix, a smart watch and even some creative form factors Motorola never quite got things together well enough to sway consumers in its direction.
Now things are different. Google is at the helm and a leaner, meaner Motorola has promised timely software updates to its devices, and a new direction for the company as a whole. So far all we have from Motorola are rumors that Google has shot down a lot of potentially innovative products. These are disturbing but I wouldn’t worry. Google is losing money every day that Motorola fails to turn a profit. Once Motorola has a proven track record for high quality software and hardware joined to make products that people actually want, the time for innovation will be at hand.
Can Google make Motorola profitable and innovative? Probably, but it might take a while.