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11/30/2007
09:22 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Motorola's CEO Calls It Quits

Some would say it is about time. After a troubling year for its handset business and massive shareholder pressure, Motorola's CEO Ed Zander has agreed to vacate his chair at the end of the table. He'll hand it over to Motorola chief operating officer Gre

Some would say it is about time. After a troubling year for its handset business and massive shareholder pressure, Motorola's CEO Ed Zander has agreed to vacate his chair at the end of the table. He'll hand it over to Motorola chief operating officer Greg Brown. The real question is, will this change of leadership be what Motorola needs to turn things around?There's no doubt that Motorola needs to find a new direction. While its Razr handset, which was developed by Zander's predecessor, may have been a smash hit in Zander's first couple of years with Motorola, the company hasn't followed it up successfully with an equally popular handset. That's not to say the Illinois-based firm hasn't tried.

The Razr's first supposed successor, the Krzr (pronounced krazer), was a relative flop in comparison. The Razr still outsells it. There were others, such as the Rokrs, Pebls, Slvrs, Rizrs, and Qs. All decent phones, but not iconic.

In May, Motorola held a press conference in NYC to bow the official Razr2, which is selling well, but the original Razr still outsells it. It was with this announcement that people really began to wonder where the company was headed. Then came an announcement that Motorola's handset business wasn't doing well, and would close out 2007 in the red.

Shareholders were fuming. One large shareholder, Carl Icahn, attempted to snag a seat on Motorola's board of directors in an attempt to gain some measure of control over the company. He failed. But the message was loud and clear. Shareholders want change.

Well, now they have it.

Whether or not Mr. Brown can affect the changes they are looking for is something only time will tell.

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