Motorola is pruning its Cambridgeshire presence by laying off 155 people at TTPCom, the technology firm snapped up by the American phone manufacturer in March 2006. TTPCom, not to be confused with former sibling The Technology Partnership which is still headquartered nearby, specialised in providing a modular platform for mobile …
Only half the story...
Having worked in a senior position at MOT for 5 years I can shed a bit more light. True, they have hardware design and manufacture processes pretty much nailed, but they also have some fantastic software talent, process engineering and working groups. The problem is the senior leadership are all fixated with share price and short-term fixes (such as outsourcing, resturcturing etc) and yet know very little about software engineering, and are in denial about their failings.
They STILL fail to realise that, no matter how good your hardware and product design, what the customer sees is 80% software. What the company needs is a technologist at or near the top, a Gates or a Jobs, who can pull together all the good stuff in the company and push back down a sensible and coherent approach to software devt.
Don't get me wrong, it's a bloody good, solid and ethical company, and they have the right ideas. They all want common software platform, processes etc but can't get the balance right to foster innovation but maintain some uniformity. But find me an organistion of that size that can!
Finally a quick anecdote to highlight: MOT employ staff all over the world, including China. When it comes to designing a GUI for chinese input to a phone, it was done in Europe, whilst the Chinese were working on a next-gen smart phone primarily for Europe market. Theres a fundamental essence to software development that few large organisations seem to master. Luckily that leaves the door open for the little guys!
And the other half of the story
Motorola is an American company. The major design and strategic product decisions are taken in the US.
As most of the US public are years behind Europe in phone taste, many of the features that Motorola "announce" are old hat in Europe.
Currently the latest and greatest phone from Motorola has a 2M camera.
Samsung offer a phone with a 5M camera.That is a simple example.
Until there is a major rethink within Motorola as to where design decisions are taken there is little prospect of Motorola being a major force in Mobile Telephony.
That's a slightly simiplified view. MOT have a pretty sensible approach to phones: voice first, because that's what most people do with their phones. It could be more a policy decision (guided or misguided) rather than being Americans at "fault".
From what I saw, it was American-lead, but there was a lot of room for non-American input, and the US-based teams were pretty switched on.
The biggest problem was some VP or other, whatever their nationality, would get a bee in their bonnett about what the market wants, and this was dictated to the product design teams, with market reasearch tagged on at the end. Too many big-shots making decisions on a whim!
Pie Man has the right half
Excellent post Pie Man! I am also a 10 year Motorolan and feel this is exactly what is wrong with our strategy. We have no consistency from top down. We branch into too many OS'es to satisfy too many customers without getting anyone of them to be a hit. We've put our eggs into Linux, Microsoft, Symbian, baskets only to come up a few eggs short in each basket. The business is definitely changing from hardware to software. It has been seen in the industry that even mediocre hardware (iPod) when paired with excellent software (iTunes) can create an experience greater than its parts. I've personally had 3 iPods crash and die on me, and I still happily go out and buy another with out any regrets. I don't think the average Motorola phone user would be so forgiving. I do believe we have the hardware part right, if we regain the software edge somehow we should be in pretty good shape for 3 years ago.
I don't know what all the fuss is. They might be a good company, but their phones are absolute crap. Non standard design, over complicated UI, unpressable buttons, REALLY annoying sounds, cruddy workmanship and all the rest of it. And overpriced.
Let them go bankrupt. It will make the world a better place.