Motorola Places Its Bets on Android

It appears Acer isn’t the only company who’s hard at work on Android devices. During an investors’ conference call yesterday, Motorola’s chief executive Sanjay Jha said Motorola plans to launch “a few” Google Android smartphones at several different price points in the fourth quarter of this year. Interestingly, Jha didn’t even mention a word about Windows Mobile, the other smartphone platform Motorola has pledged to support.

"With Android we believe we can enable differentiated consumer experience and applications, with enhanced integration of messaging and social networking applications," Jha said during the conference call announcing the company's second-quarter earnings. "We also intend to offer a range of devices by delivering those capabilities in both the high tier and the mid tier.... We will deliver meaningful products in the fourth quarter."

Jha suggested Motorola is working on at least one entry level data device, and mentioned that he likes to think of rich, data-enabled devices with capabilities beyond just SMS. In addition, Jha mentioned that Android’s large number of third-party applications and significant developer interest has the potential to become a successful platform.

Even though there’s been a fair amount of hype around Android lately, there’s still only one Android phone that’s actually available for purchase in the U.S. – the T-Mobile G1 made by HTC. Additional Android devices have been promised for the future. For example, HTC and Samsung have unveiled Android devices that are scheduled for release later this year.

According to Jha, Motorola’s new Android phones will launch with multiple carriers in North America as well as in other regions. Jha also mentioned Motorola continues to see strength in prepaid. This could mean some of the carriers for these new Android phones may be a bit of a surprise. Given that Motorola has recently released some interesting new phones such as the i9, Hint QA30, and Evoke QA4 through prepaid carriers such as Boost, Cricket, and MetroPCS rather than through mainstream carriers like Verizon or AT&T, we wouldn’t be surprised if Motorola is considering offering one of its Android phones through a prepaid carrier as well.

Motorola has struggled in recent years. The company is now down to a 6% global market share with 14.7 million phones sold in the first quarter of 2009. By comparison, the company sold 27.4 million handsets a year ago. At the company’s height in the fourth quarter of 2006, Motorola shipped 65.7 million phones and had a market share of 23.3%.