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Motorola slashes R&D lab by half

Sensible response to lack of innovation?

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Motorola Labs is to shrink by half as the company struggles to cut costs by laying off 150 researchers and transferring 180 to elsewhere within the company.

The cuts will be around the world and will leave only about 300 staff in Motorola Labs, most of whom are involved in long-term research which can't be so easily cancelled. The division will be renamed the "Applied Research & Technology Center", which sounds much more high-tech.

It could be argued that a company so frequently accused of lacking innovation shouldn't be cutting research and development, especially considering that if you ignore the soon-to-be-divested mobile phone division the company is doing OK.

It's worth noting that the newly-renamed unit will come under Dan Moloney: head of the networks and set-top box divisions at Motorola. The details of which projects and researchers are getting dropped haven't been revealed, but it seems likely that mobile handset research isn't going to be a priority for a company intending to get out of that business entirely in 2009.

Motorola presumably doesn't think that having research and development in progress will increase the value of the stand-alone mobile division when it's spun off next year. Or maybe they're assuming that division will be bought by someone with their own R&D operations. ®

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