Despite layoffs, Motorola to support Windows Mobile

Company laid off 3,000 in its handset division this month

While Motorola Inc. is laying off Windows Mobile developers, the company intends to continue to support the mobile platform, a spokeswoman said.

Motorola disclosed Friday that among the 3,000 employees it is laying off in its mobile devices division are 77 people working in its Plantation, Fla., facility. Those workers are involved in Windows Mobile development, said Maya Komadina, a Motorola spokeswoman.

Despite speculation that the layoffs indicate a decision to cut Windows Mobile, Motorola is still supporting the operating system, she said.

"It is important to note that Motorola's strategy for the mobile devices business has not changed. We continue to focus on Windows Mobile as one of our software platforms, and there are teams working on Windows Mobile development at other facilities," she said.

Based on previous layoffs at Motorola, it's risky to infer too much based the types of workers let go, said Bill Hughes, an analyst at In-Stat who used to work for Motorola. His experience was that Motorola would often make layoffs across the board, without regard for which groups were more successful. If that's the case with this round of layoffs, it wouldn't necessarily mean that Motorola is cooling off on Windows Mobile, he said.

In October, Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola and CEO of the handset division, said the company would focus on Android and Windows Mobile phones, cutting the rest of the operating system platforms that the company has supported. But as the company's handset division continues to struggle, onlookers are watching for signs of other changes in the business strategy.

Motorola has historically spread itself too thin by supporting practically every operating system out there, said Jack Gold, analyst at J.Gold Associates LLC. Paring down to Android and Windows Mobile makes sense, he said. Windows Mobile lets Motorola target the enterprise and is also the basis for many devices made by Symbol, the Motorola group that makes devices like handheld bar-code scanners for vertical markets.

Because Android is open source, it will allow Motorola to get creative and build a phone that isn't a "me too" device, Gold said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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