As the Moto turns

As a kid my after-school sitter was the outlandish and catty plotlines of daytime soaps — Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns, and the like (latchkey kids unite). Now after reading the latest on Motorola’s fall from grace and recent anti-Zander comments from Carl Icahn, the plotline of the handset maker’s struggles is straight off a catfight-filled soap opera copy desk. Maybe Moto CEO Ed Zander will be replaced next season by a long-lost twin who’s actually a cyborg.

In a full page page ad in the Wall Street Journal Carl Icahn calls Motorola “troubled” and says it has “stumbled badly” — all part of Icahn’s plan to capture a Moto board seat. In the letter Icahn also attacks a reported comment from Ed Zander that he loves his job, but hates his carrier customers, and calls Zander’s comment “something straight out of Alice in Wonderland.”

Activist investor Icahn is no stranger to controversy, but increasingly Zander is being painted more like the Mad Hatter. To a large extent by mad investors, that is. The Wall Street Journal posted a long piece about Zander’s role in Moto’s decline this weekend. The gist is that under Zander’s lead Motorola’s relied on the success of the RAZR for far too long and left itself hanging with no followup act. Nothing that is suprising to our readers.

The article chronicles the Motorola employees that left as Zander led the ship astray, like Ron Garriques and Mike Zafirovski. now CEO of Nortel. The talk in Silicon Valley is that Zander received a lot of unwarranted praise for his role in promoting the RAZR, and his lack of product vision is only now being demonstrated after the shine of the RAZR has worn off.