It’s earnings season all over again in the mobile world. As the second quarter of the year has ended recently, all major companies are slowly starting to report their results for that quarter which started in April and ended in June. Apple and Nokia have already done it, and today it was Motorola’s turn. Things aren’t all rosy over there, but let’s start with the good news.
Motorola shipped 11 million mobile devices (smartphones, featurephones, and tablets) in the second quarter of 2011, of which 4.4 million were smartphones and 440,000 Xoom tablets. That compares favorably to Moto’s year-ago quarter in which it managed to ship a total of 8.3 million devices, of which 2.7 million were smartphones. So compared to Q2 2010, Motorola has sold 32% more devices, and 62% more smartphones.
In the first quarter of 2011, Motorola sold 4.1 million smartphones and 250,000 tablets. That means that Moto’s Q2 numbers were 7% better than Q1 in terms of smartphones sold, and 76% better in tablets.
Net revenues from mobile devices were $2.4 billion in Q2 2011, which is 41% more than this time last year. However, here the good news ends and the bad news begins. Motorola’s mobile device unit has had an operating loss of $85 million this quarter (according to GAAP rules), and $31 million non-GAAP.
Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha estimates that the company will become profitable in the fourth quarter of this year, and will manage to make a profit for the whole of 2011 as well. So investors should expect more losses in the third quarter of 2011. As a matter of fact, for Q3 Motorola expects lower sales. That has to do in part with the Droid Bionic for Verizon, which will launch later than first anticipated (the official word from Mr. Jha himself is that it will happen sometime in September). The Xoom with LTE capability on board is also late, and hence Motorola expects the tablet sales volume to be lower in Q3 than it was this quarter. That may just mean that no one is interested in Android tablets. Or at least in Motorola’s offering. Though up until now that would have been pretty reasonable (after all, the Xoom has been by far the most expensive Android tablet for a long time after it launched), but recently we’ve seen its prices drop, so perhaps the sales may pick up a bit.
Speaking of which, apparently Motorola had to cut the Xoom’s prices faster than it expected. Well, I really don’t get Motorola’s strategy and vision here. It launches the most expensive Android tablet (also more expensive than Apple’s iPad) and then is very confused about why it doesn’t sell and the fact that it has to cut the price down to the level of the competition. Since the hardware is pretty much identical to the competitors (so there’s no advantage there), was this really so hard to foresee?
Anyway, a refresh of the rugged Motorola Defy called Defy+ has been confirmed too. This will not be launched in the US, and will only be available internationally. At least 1 LTE smartphone and 2 LTE tablets are coming in the fourth quarter. Aside from these, Motorola will launch another 3 devices in Q4. Motorola will also try to optimize its costs with regard to the second-generation tablets it will launch, so it will have better profit margins there.
Motorola expects to sell around 21-23 million mobile devices in the whole of 2011. Given the fact that it has sold 9.19 million devices in the first half of the year, that means that the company expects to sell about 11.8 to 13.8 million devices in the second half of the year. And with Q3 projected to be worse than Q2, Motorola will have to have an amazing fourth quarter for all this to become reality. Of course, that is entirely possible, since the famed holiday season can impact sales in a big way.
Interestingly, during today’s earnings conference call, Sanjay Jha also took the time to tout Motorola’s patent portfolio. The company already has 1,700 patents granted, and 7,000 pending. It’s almost like Motorola is saying to the patent trolls of the world something along the lines of don’t bother coming after us, we’ll counter-sue you immediately and have the patents to make it count. Motorola also sees an opportunity in the future to increase its revenues from royalties, so it seems like it’s going to go after other companies in the field (perhaps even other Android device makers) with licensing proposals.