On the blog 24/7 Wall Street, Jon Ogg boldly predicted this week that Motorola is one of 10 brands that will disappear in 2010. It’s time to break up the company and “scuttle a brand with a bad reputation,” he wrote. A bad reputation among whom? Enterprises? I don’t think so. Brocade and Extreme Networks both recently announced strategic OEM agreements with Motorola’s wireless LAN business. They seem to think the Motorola brand is just fine.
Just before the economy took a dive, Motorola announced vague plans for a corporate breakup. The company would spin out or sell off its struggling mobile handset division so that its networking businesses could thrive. Now it appears that success with smartphones built on Google’s Android OS (the Cliq and the Droid) has Motorola’s leadership more bullish about the handset division. The scuttlebutt now has Motorola selling off its set-top box and network equipment divisions and holding onto the handset division.
Will any of this happen? Hard to say. Plenty of big technology companies (Cisco, HP, Dell) have been in a buying frame of mind in recent months. But one thing is clear: I haven’t seen a single Droid advertisement that informs consumers that the hot new iPhone alternative is a Motorola product. If Motorola is planning to dump its infrastructure business and focus on handsets, why isn’t it associating its brand with Droid?
Meanwhile Motorola’s brand remains strong among enterprises (and telecoms). Motorola’s wireless LAN business is a top-five market leader (although it battles over scraps with companies not named Cisco and Aruba). Its enterprise mobility business (Good Technology) is a well-known brand. And Motorola still has a good reputation among public safety agencies, shipping and transportation companies and football coaches for its two-way radios and its radio dispatch systems.
I think the Motorola brand will survive 2010 just fine. The question is, which part of the company will hold onto it?