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Bye Bye Moto: Google pulls plug on Motorola Korea

R&D job cuts in the offing as restructuring continues

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Motorola Mobility has followed Taiwanese handset giant HTC out of the South Korean market, as parent company Google looks to streamline its operations and return the business to profitability.

The firm said it will be closing “most” of its operations, including R&D and consumer mobile device marketing, with only around 10 per cent of R&D staff at the closed plant being offered the chance to relocate.

"The changes in Korea reflect our plans to consolidate our global R&D efforts to foster collaboration, and to focus more attention on markets where we are best positioned to compete effectively,” the statement noted

"This was a difficult but necessary decision. We are very proud of the work done by our talented teams in Korea, and the many contributions they have made to our business over the years."

Motorola said it will be keeping its set-top box business and its iDEN Networks wireless networks operation, and will continue to provide customer service and warranty support for any mobile devices sold in Korea.

The writing has been on the wall for some of Moto’s far-flung operations for some time now.

Back in August Google said that it would cut 4,000 jobs, and a couple of months later a filing with the SEC said the firm “expects to broaden those actions to include additional geographic regions outside of the US”.

The lay-offs have already hit China, where staff at its Beijing and Nanjing offices protested the cuts in August.

Rising smartphone star Lenovo was quick to seize the opportunity and is said to have recruited scores of ex-Moto workers to its own R&D centre in Nanjing, consolidating its operations there in order to accommodate the unexpected talent pool that became available back in October.

The South Korean market has been a pretty unforgiving one of late for foreign handset makers.

HTC abandoned its presence there in July in order to “streamline operations”, while Apple decided abruptly to give its GM Dominique Oh the boot after failing to close the smartphone gap sufficiently on Samsung. ®

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