The economic woes have hit mobile phone pioneer Motorola very hard. This week it was announced that the company has loses of around $3.6 billion (yes, with a B). The results are that the company has suspended dividends and the CFO has left the building.
But this isn’t a total surprise. After all, 2008 was not a good year for the once mighty M. But the latest news is also surprising. Word on the street is that Dell Inc. could be looking to buy Motorola’s handheld division. This is yet just another interesting turn in the drama that has been anything but business as usual in the mobile phone space.
Last week I reported that Microsoft is refocusing on mobile, and now it seems that Dell is trying to get in on the mobile space as well. This comes after Dell has struggled to regain its once unstoppable stronghold on the home PC market. So think of this as a tweak to the Dell reboot.
Dell found Michael Dell returned to the company as chief executive in 2007, but there has been no major Apple turnaround such as the one experienced when Steve Jobs famously returned, but then again time could tell. Of course since Dell’s return, the company looked to step up with a high-end music player only to back peddle.
Now instead, the move appears to be towards mobile. This seems to be the new battleground, and Dell will likely focus on smartphones with advanced features such as Web browsing, e-mail and ability to run numerous apps. Of the phones that are expected, insiders have said one model could include a touchscreen that would be similar to the iPhone, and thus lack a physical keyboard, while another model might be a slider-style phone with such a keypad. Dell has so far remained hushed on the subject, only commenting that nothing has been committed as yet.
What all this means is that the mobile playing field will likely see even more competition, and for business users that has mixed blessings.
The good news is that phones will likely get more advanced more quickly, as there is a rush to outdo the competition. Prices will also likely stay competitive, thanks to the lackluster economy. And most importantly this will provide new opportunities for app developers.
The bad news is that some early adopters are going to find themselves on an evolutionary branch that ends up going nowhere. And while there will be new opportunities for developers, this could mean even more variations. It is unlikely we’re going to see the launch of yet another operating system, but then again a year ago how many people would expected Google to enter the fray? However, we will likely see more variations on handsets, and that can mean apps that need to be customized for even more handsets.
And no matter the outcome, we’re in an interesting transition. Motorola fades, as Apple rises with Dell, Nvidia, Microsoft and Google looking to go the distance. It will likely be a while before the dust settles.