A one-time leader in mobile communications with over 50% global share, Motorola lost its way during the 1990s, and a series of attempts to rebuild the mobile phone brand have failed to re-establish its former success. The company was one of the original pioneers in radio communications and a leading light in the development of cellular phone systems in the 1980s. During the following decade, however, Motorola saw its command of this high-profile sector whittled away as it failed to make a smooth upgrade from analogue to digital technology. A move into satellite communications turned out to be an expensive distraction as well as an embarrassing flop. A change of direction (and management) began to deliver results from 2004 following the introduction of the stylish Razr handset. But in 2007 the company suffered a new and even more prolonged slump. The group split into two entirely separate companies at the beginning of 2011. Handset business Motorola Mobility was acquired by Google in 2012; less than two years later, it was sold on to Lenovo of China for $2.9bn. Lenovo relaunched the brand as Moto but with only limited success, at least at first. The brand is now focused primarily on Latin America, the US and India, and a refocusing of the business led to a strong rebound since 2021. Most impressive of all, Lenovo/Motorola climbed back into the top three smartphone brands in North America in the first quarter of 2022 by shipments, outsold only by Samsung and Apple. Lenovo's mobile devices division contributed revenues of $7.9bn in ye 2022. Sergio Buniac is president. Global shipments have rebounded from 38.5m devices in 2017 to around 53m in 2021. The infrastructure and specialised communications business spun out of the original company in 2011 continues to trade separately as Motorola Solutions, mainly supplying emergency services suppliers.
Capsule checked 7th July 2022
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Historical profile information for Motorola
Adbrands Weekly Update 19th May 2016: There was another shakeup at the shrinking Motorola mobile business now owned by Lenovo. Divisional president Rick Osterloh and CMO Adrienne Hayes have both left the company. Osterloh has returned to his previous employer Google, and was replaced by former North America head Aymar de Lencquesaing. Hayes was replaced as marketing chief by Jan Huckfeldt, based in Paris. At the same time, Motorola's advertising outside the US was consolidated with Ogilvy & Mather, following the resignation of Droga5, which had held the business for the past couple of years. Separately, Lenovo shifted another chunk of its own brand advertising business over to Ogilvy. It's not clear who is the main loser here out of the brand's other main agencies, Saatchi & Saatchi and MullenLowe.
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Jan 2016: Chinese technology giant Lenovo has announced plans to begin phasing out the once-mighty Motorola mobile brand later this year. Instead, those devices will adopt the name Moto by Lenovo, alongside the existing family of Lenovo Vibe devices.
Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Feb 2014: In a surprise turnaround, Google took the opportunity to cut its losses on the Motorola handset business it acquired less than two years ago. It has agreed to sell the company to China's Lenovo for just $2.9bn, considerably below the $12.4bn it paid for the company. However the search giant has already recouped some of that cost by selling off Motorola's set-top box business for more than $2bn and it will keep hold of most of Motorola's 20,000 valuable mobile patents. The announcement followed a disappointing final quarter for Google in which poor performance at the Motorola division caused combined results to fall below expectations. For the year, Google reported total revenues of $59.8bn, up 19%, with net income rising 20% to $12.9bn. Motorola contributed revenues of $4.3bn, only marginally higher than the year before, and increased operating losses. The fast exit from handset manufacturing marks a comparatively rare misstep for Google, but a major gain for Lenovo, which already leads the handset market in China but has virtually no presence in Western mobile markets. If the deal is approved by US regulators - no certainty - Lenovo would become only the second major company after Apple to hold a leading global position in PCs (it became the worldwide #1 during 2013), smartphones and tablets.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Nov 2013: Google's Motorola division launched a direct assault on Apple and Samsung's high-end smartphones by introducing a new handset, the Moto G, that offers most of the same features but at a considerably lower price, around $179 in the US without a contract, compared to $500 to $600 for Galaxy or iPhone. It makes its debut in Latin America, a traditionally strong region for Motorola, as well as the US, UK and selected other markets.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Sep 2013: Ads of the Week: "Lazy Phone". The new campaign from Droga5 NY for Motorola is endearingly silly, with this hairy drop-out standing in for your current phone and all its annoying faults. None of which you'd find on the new Motorola Moto X of course.
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