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Motorola swings axe again

Lays off another 4K as company bets on Android

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Motorola is to lay off another 4,000 staff, totalling more than five per cent of the workforce, in the face of still-declining sales attributed to the global financial position and the fact that no one wants a Moto phone these days.

The handset division will account for 3,000 of those being laid off, though those working on Android and P2K (Motorola's embedded platform of choice) should be OK as the company continues to streamline the huge range of platforms it's been supporting in the past. "We are making good progress in developing important new smartphones for 2009," said a canned statement from Sanjay Jha, co-chief executive officer.

The cuts, combined with 3,000 layoffs announced in December and various other cost-saving measures, should see savings of around $1.5bn, $1.2bn of which will come from the handset division.

Fourth quarter results for 2008 aren't in yet for Motorola, but in a preliminary statement the company said it's the handset division that continues to drag it down - the rest of the company seems to be doing OK under the circumstances.

That handset division was supposed to be spinning off this year, a step which has been postponed for the moment in the hope it's going to look more attractive in a year or two - which is where the Android bet comes in. After years of jumping into bed with every OS that came knocking, Motorola has gone all monogamous with Android - and is moving heaven and earth to get the Motorola UI running on Google's smartphone platform.

But that means the company is not only betting that Android will be successful, but that it can make the best Android handset and that punters will flock to the Motorola/Android combination - more of an accumulator bet than a sure thing. ®

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