updated 05:15 pm EST, Thu January 26, 2012
Motorola Q4 2011 up on tablets, down on phones
Motorola Mobility posted fall results Thursday underscoring the gap between its ambitions in tablets and its actual performance. The company shipped 200,000 Xoom and Xyboard tablets in the last three months of 2011, which while better than its low point in summer was still lower than what it managed in the first two quarters of 2011. It shipped just one million of its Android tablets all year, which Apple's iPad at its current pace can eclipse in less than a week.
The season also saw Motorola not quite compensating the decline of its basic feature phone sales with smartphones. More smartphones shipped, at 5.3 million to this past summer's 4.8 million, but its overall phone count dropped from 11.6 million to 10.5 million this fall. Motorola had moved a total of 18.7 million smartphones in all of 2011 and 42.4 million cellphones.
Ultimately, the company left its first year split off from its Motorola Solutions sibling in a worse position. It posted an $80 million loss where its previously attached division made as much in profit a year earlier. Revenue for all of 2011 was up 14 percent, but Motorola lost about $249 million in the process.
Both the shipments and the financial results contrast sharply with what Motorola had hoped for at the start of 2011. It kicked off its role as a separate company with four new devices that never reached the heights set by the original Droid or the Droid X. At the time, it was fully confident that the Xoom tablet would have an exact repeat of the success of the Droid in challenging Apple and ran an anti-iPad Super Bowl commercial. A price higher than the iPad, the rough state of Android 3.0, and a large number of features that were promised but delayed past launch ultimately led to few actual sales.
Most of its smartphone activity came in the later part of the year and was criticized for a significant amount of overlap, where the delayed Droid Bionic shipped in September only to be supplemented by the more advanced Droid RAZR just two months later, triggering confusion as well as resentment from early adopters who bought the Bionic.
Motorola had little comment on the proposed acquisition by Google other than to hope for an approval "as expeditiously as possible."