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Goodbye Moto, hello Dell

Motorola, the world’s second largest handset vendor, said goodbye to Ron Garriques, the head of its mobile devices division late Friday.

Garriques quit the position of executive vice president and president of the company’s Mobile Devices business after fourth quarter 2006 operating earnings for the unit dropped to $341m, compared $663m in the year ago quarter.

Motorola has come under increasing pressure from first placed Nokia and third placed Samsung, particularly as the success of the RAZR has worn off and the company has not come up with a comparable successor.

Ovum analyst Martin Garner said that things are not looking too bright at the unit. “We suspect that Q1 devices sales in Motorola are horrible and that the discussion between Ron Garriques and Ed Zander, CEO, was full and frank.

“Motorola is missing out on growth in the smartphone market. It is struggling on profitability at the low end and its mid-range portfolio is not strong enough to carry it,” he said.

Garriques has moved to PC manufacturer Dell to head up the company’s newly formed consumer group, which intends to bring the firm’s disparate consumer product, design and sales teams under one umbrella.

It is not clear whether the move means Dell is going to make a play for the handset space, but it has already been suggested the company could use its experience in the PC market to good effect.

Recently, Norwegian VoIP provider Telio, told telecoms.com that it has seen mobile operators control over subscribers coming under increasing threat as handset manufacturers move towards a “Dell-style” approach, where users specify the features and software they want on their devices.

“People know that subsidies don’t come for free. So they’d rather buy a phone that costs £100 and choose the operator that suits them best,” said Alan Duric, CEO of Telio.

Ray Roman, senior vice president of global sales, and Terry Vega, senior vice president of global devices, will assume responsibility as interim co-heads of Motorola’s Mobile Devices business.

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