Bloomberg News

Motorola Mobility Tempts Business Users as RIM’s Grip Loosens

February 28, 2012

Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (MMI), looking to stand out from Android rivals, is tempting business users with cash to sell more phones as BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM)’s workplace grip slackens.

Motorola Mobility is offering as much as $200 back to anyone who trades in a phone for one of its business devices, such as the Razr Maxx or Droid 4. The offer, which includes access to MotoAssist IT service that helps synchronize phones with corporate networks, reflects an effort to seize more of the business market, said Christy Wyatt, a senior vice president.

The stranglehold of RIM on that market was broken in 2007 with the introduction of Apple Inc.’s iPhone. Corporate information-technology departments now say it can be cheaper and safer to let employees bring their own devices to work and build security networks around those phones -- opening the field to other brands.

“I don’t ever want an IT manager to tell one of our customers they can’t bring a Motorola phone to work,” Wyatt said in the interview today at the World Mobile Congress, in Barcelona, Spain.

Some of the company’s smartphones come with business software that allows users to stream desktop documents onto the devices while also offering consumers a range of Android apps and Web browsing. The products may help Motorola Mobility poach users of older BlackBerry models.

“For a long time you saw the corporate-managed devices being very much RIM’s mainstay, but it was a very simple model as there was only one kind” of product, said Wyatt, who heads Motorola Mobility’s enterprise business.

Google Deal

Motorola Mobility, based in Libertyville, Illinois, was spun off in January 2011 from the company now known as Motorola Solutions Inc. Google Inc. (GOOG) agreed in August to buy Motorola Mobility in a transaction valued at $12.5 billion. The acquisition is still pending.

Motorola Mobility bought software maker Three Laws Mobility, known as 3LM, in February 2011 and has made that unit the cornerstone of its business-phone strategy. The security software is already licensed to some Android rivals, including HTC Corp. (2498) and Huawei Technologies Co., to help the Android ecosystem become more pervasive. The software hasn’t been licensed to Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the biggest maker of phones that use Google’s Android software.

Android, the world’s biggest smartphone platform, increased its market share to 51 percent last quarter from 31 percent a year earlier, according to Gartner Inc.

Motorola isn’t alone in its aspirations and will have a fight on its hands.

“Samsung will put a significant amount of effort into generating business from the enterprise sector,” Bum-coo Cho, who heads Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung’s enterprise business, said in Barcelona this week.

RIM Products

RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, introduced BlackBerry Mobile Fusion earlier this year in recognition of the inroads Apple and Android have made into the workplace. In the past month, the General Services Administration, the U.S. government’s main procurement agency, Halliburton Co. (HAL), the Houston-based oil-field services company, both ended their BlackBerry monopolies for employees.

Mobile Fusion will help IT managers manage Apple and Android devices, alongside BlackBerry products already on their corporate networks.

Motorola Mobility wants to sell more phones to people in “one of the largest untapped markets for Android,” Wyatt said.

“We’re just at the very early days of Android getting in behind the firewall,” she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net


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