Last weekend, I remarked on the disproportionate representation of LG and Samsung as suppliers to Verizon, the largest US CDMA carrier. Earlier I’d assumed that LG and Samsung were taking Verizon by storm because the Europeans don’t make CDMA phones (or good ones).
However, in the succeeding week, I made some more visits (to do repairs at the Apple Store) and the pattern was nearly the same at the Cingular AT&T store. I decided to count available handsets at the Verizon kiosk in the mall and the AT&T stand-alone store in the strip mall across the street. I tried to exclude duplicates (like the four Samsung Blackjack II phones at the AT&T website).
After looking at these retailers representing 54% of the US market, what was striking was the lack of handsets by Motorola. According to the Q2 figures, Motorola still leads the US market, while LG has slipped past Samsung into second. But you wouldn’t know it from looking at the phones in the mall.
|# of handsets|
Clearly LG, Samsung and RIM are benefitting from product proliferation, while Apple is getting more share out of their one model than Palm. LG has clearly leveraged that product proliferation (and other point of purchase push) into US market share gains.
Razr is not a business telephone but a consumer phone, and supposedly the best-selling phone in America. So if they're not being sold in the malls or strip malls, where are people buying them? Costco? Office Depot? Of course, Motorola has a monopoly on the iDEN phones sold for the Nextel half of the Sprint Nextel network, but this is clearly a declining and troubled business.
So should Sanjay Jha get Motorola to create more new models (ala LG) or should he creating more compelling point products (ala Apple)? It seems unlikely they squeeze a higher sales rate out of the Razr, and so the issue is the popularity of #2 or #3 Motorola models (or perhaps adding a #4 or #5 model). The Razr is a cool slim flip phone, but do people want different form factors, operating systems, feature lists?
One major growth area is increasingly important and increasingly competitive smartphone segment, where RIM and Apple dominate North America and Motorola is a distant fifth. The Motorola smartphones don’t seem to be attracting buzz, visibility or tire-kickers, whether the Symbian-based Moto Z10 or Windows-based Moto Q (or its Q11 successor). Is this the hardware design? Is it that Symbian isn’t designed for the US market? Is it that Motorola is splitting the Windows Mobile market with Palm (#3 in US smartphone sales with its 750w and 800w) and Samsung (#4 via the BlackJack II)?
Rather than make better Symbian or WM phones, it appears that Motorola has placed its huge smartphone bet on Android. But the gPhone is far from a certain success, either as a platform or as a series of handsets. As long as Motorola has Symbian and WM development teams, it seems as though they should continue to develop successor projects until the verdict on Android comes in.