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Motorola still losing money

Still carrying mobile division

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Developments in the handset business dominated the third-quarter results call from Motorola - ironic considering that the division continues to be such a drain on the rest of the firm, which will be much better off without it.

Motorola had revenue of $7.4bn in the last three months, with $3.1bn of that coming from handset sales of 25.4 million. However, the handset division lost $840m during the quarter, while the company overall only lost $397m - 18 cents a share.

Sanjay Jha, co-CEO and chap responsible for mobile devices, confirmed rumours that the company is dropping support for every platform except Android, Windows Mobile and P2K - despite the fact that P2K seems unsuited to the lower-end handsets where Motorola needs to increase profitability. That announcement is also a blow to Symbian, though given the way Motorola handsets are heading it's not a very significant blow.

The rest of the company showed better results: Home and Networks Mobility managed to increase earnings by 65 per cent to $263m compared to the same period last year, despite sales falling by one per cent for the period. Enterprise mobility has increased sales, by four per cent, but managed to squeeze a revenue jump of 23 per cent from that. The increased revenue is attributable to cost cutting, something that will continue into 2009 with savings of $800m expected by the company.

Which is good since the mobile division isn't going to be spun off in 2009, as had been expected. Apparently the economic situation makes it a bad time to be floating a handset manufacturer, so the company is holding itself together a little longer. During the call Jha admitted that the company won't have an Android-based handset until the end of 2009, and won't be launching as many handsets next year as plans for Symbian-based devices have been shelved.

It would be very hard to sell the company without proving its business direction, but given Jha's contract offers him a huge bonus if it happens before Halloween 2010 it's hard to imagine he'll be planning to delay beyond that date. ®

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