Motorola swings back into black

It’s been a good week for struggling vendor Motorola so far, with the company reporting its second helping of good news in as many days.

The US firm swung to a $12m profit during the third quarter of 2009, compared to a loss of $397m in the same period last year. Net sales were still down, from $7.5bn in the third quarter of 2008 to $5.4bn in 2009, although things were looking up at the handset unit.

Mobile device sales were down 46 per cent year on year to $1.7bn, although operating loss shrank from $840m to $183m, also reporting a 28 per cent sequential shift in the right direction.

The firm, which shipped 13.6 million handsets, giving it an estimated global handset market share of 4.7 per cent, is betting the farm on Android.

Yesterday Moto released information on the forthcoming Droid device – its first such handset to run Android 2.0. The Droid will land on November 6 on Verizon Wireless’ network, in the wake of a vendor funded advertising campaign pitching the device against the Apple iPhone.

In a slider form factor with a full QWERTY keyboard, the Droid boasts a 3.7” high-resolution capacitive touchscreen, with a width of 854 pixels and more than 400,000 pixels in total. The camera weighs in at five megapixels, with a dual-LED flash and video capture, backed up by 16GB of removable storage.

Connectivity is provided by 3G EV-DO, wifi and Bluetooth as well as A-GPS, while the operating system is Android 2.0, supporting multitasking for six apps, and access to more than 12,000 applications via the Android app store. Droid is also the first device to support Google Maps Navigation (Beta), which provides turn-by-turn voice guidance as a free feature of Google Maps and can also be voice controlled.

It sounds impressive, especially for a Motorola device, but probably the most advantageous thing Droid has got going for it is a Webkit HTML5, Flash 10 ready browser, and an ARM Cortex A8 processor, making it roughly twice as fast as existing Android handsets.

The firm recently launched the Cliq/Dext Android-powered phone and its social networking focused Motoblur platform.

In related news, perhaps as reward for getting the company back into profit, Edward Fitzpatrick, who has served as acting CFO since February, has been appointed full time chief financial officer, effective immediately.

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