Has AT&T Bailed on Motorola's Android Phones?
When Motorola announces its new Android handsets at a scheduled Sept. 10 event in San Francisco, AT&T isn’t likely to be among their carriers. Sources close to the company tell MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen that AT&T (T) balked at Motorola’s Sawgrass and Heron handsets. Allegedly because of their dated display technology, the company has chosen not to carry them. That’s bad news for Motorola (MOT), which pinned its hopes of a turnaround on Google’s (GOOG) Android OS.
“We expect Motorola’s 2010 performance to hinge largely on the success of Android models debuting in 4Q09. Just months ago, the expected launches were ‘Morrison’ for T?Mobile, ‘Sawgrass’ and ‘Heron’ for AT&T, and ‘Sholes’ and possibly ‘Calgary’ for Verizon” (VZ), Kuittinen said in a note to clients. “We believe the AT&T models have been canceled, and Verizon has pushed ‘Calgary’ into 2010.”
According to Kuttinen, “The loss of AT&T’s support for 4Q09 changes the winter outlook for Motorola dramatically. It is likely that the success of the $99 iPhone, combined with the possible November launch of the $99 Palm Eos could put AT&T in a situation where its $100 smartphone range for the Christmas quarter is already full of models featuring very advanced software and display technology.”
A worrisome turn of events and one that will weigh heavy on Motorola’s financials if it proves true. Said Kuittinen: “The narrowing of Motorola’s Android plans may have a substantial impact on the winter performance of the company’s handset division precisely because Motorola needs a rapid roll?out of a wide range of follow?up models for its ailing RAZR, Q and Z series models.”