Motorola’s Jha talks differentiation at Barclays

Fri, 05/28/2010 - 8:15am
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

Sanjay Jha stressed differentiation as key to Motorola's success going forward and said that he is "comfortable" with earlier projections of 12 to 14 new devices in 2010. Jha answered questions during a Q&A session at Barclays' Capital Conference in New York yesterday.

Jha said that he's happy with the progress made in his time with Motorola. Aside from a complete reorganization of the company, Motorola managed to ship 2.3 million units last quarter and provide guidance that indicates profitability by the fourth quarter of 2010.

When asked what Jha thought was important for Motorola going forward, he said that he's more than comfortable with the strength of Motorola's hardware and stressed that while OS is important, it's not everything when it comes to differentiation.

"OS alone is not what consumers choose a phone on," Jha said, citing research that shows between 30 and 40 percent of the customer's buying process depends on the look and feel of the device.

When asked about whether Jha would consider an operating system exclusive to Motorola, he spoke in hypothetical terms. He said that if he could have an OS that includes a large and complete ecosystem of applications and services, such as Google offers with Android, an OS exclusive to Motorola might be of interest.

For now, however, Jha said "nearly all of [his] focus is on Android right now."

Perhaps top on investors' minds was how Jha felt about the success of the HTC Android devices that are in direct competition with Motorola's Droid at Verizon Wireless. The HTC Incredible is thought to be selling extremely well given recent reports that the company is experiencing a hiccup in production due to component shortages.

Jha was dismissive, saying Motorola is still very well-positioned at Verizon Wireless.

"This is probably the HTC redux for me, because when Nexus One came out, everyone said that Motorola was dead, and we survived, and I think it's possible that we will survive again. … I think that the quality of the devices that we're producing I'm excited about," Jha said, but declined to comment on recent reports from Verizon that Motorola would have a new entry to the Droid franchise by July.

Jha also said that expansion into European and Chinese markets, as well as the company's portfolio of non-Droid products, are important factors that will figure into Motorola's long-term growth.

But Jha's main message was differentiation. He said that MotoBlur, the company's proprietary UI, has done very well in that way, noting that 87 percent of customers would recommend the UI to a friend. According to Jha, MotoBlur 2.0 will arrive this year and will bring with it a number of new features and services. He did not clarify what those new features would be.

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