Motorola Mobility: 'Multiple devices' this year to boost prospects

Motorola Mobility posted some better-than-expected earnings on Thursday, but the company isn't where it wants (or needs) to be just yet.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Motorola Mobility posted some better-than-expected earnings on Thursday, but the company isn't where it wants (or needs) to be just yet.

Motorola is predicting to break even by the second quarter and could have an operating profit as soon as the end of the third quarter. Marc Rothman, chief financial officer of Motorola Mobility, said during the company's quarterly investor conference call:

Sequentially, smartphone units and tablets will both be up, Q1 to Q2, and for the full year, with respect to mobile devices, we will have an operating profit for the full year. We haven't guided specifically to Q2 or Q3 with that respect.

But even Motorola Mobility execs acknowledge that it will going to take better sales of some of its latest gadgets (and a few upcoming ones) to make that happen. Motorola Mobility's CEO and chairman Sanjay Jha said earlier during the call:

We have certainly worked very, very closely...with our partners at AT&T and Verizon, and that continues to be a very important tenet of our business strategy going forward. But as you say, in the Android ecosystem, there is equally a need for us to differentiate ourselves. And I think if you look at our strategy, there are really four elements to this. One, you saw with the launch of our ATRIX device with the webtop and Lapdock, we really think that there is an alternative way of viewing the convergence between mobility and computing, and we will continue to focus on that. You will see multiple devices from us in the second half launching with these capabilities, and we will expand the range of our Lapdock devices so we cover a broader price point, addressing both enterprise premium tier as well as more consumer tiers. Secondly, we will focus on the enterprise segment. We are already seen as the Company with the best enterprise offering in the Android ecosystem. With the addition of 3LM and other partners, we intend to differentiate ourselves.

Those "multiple devices" remain mysterious, but Jha added later that Motorola is gearing to launch products with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

Despite varying reports, Motorola Mobility affirmed that one of its biggest sellers during the first quarter was the Android 3.0-based Motorola Xoom tablet. Over 250,000 units of the Honeycomb device were shipped. That's the official number mailed out to retailers. However, Motorola Mobility remained mum as to the actual number that ended up in the hands of end users. Jha simply said:

With respect to the sellout, the sellout was good. We -- you know, we had shipped that product late in February, so we only had about five, six weeks of sellthrough opportunity there. But we were pleased with the levels of stock in channel at the end of the quarter, as well as what we see through this earnings call.

Actual sales numbers are going to be necessary down the line, at least Motorola Mobility still appears to be on the path back out of loss into profit. It will be easier to judge the success or failure of the Xoom once it has been available for at least a full quarter and up against a number of other tablets this spring.

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