Android Saves Motorola Mobile Devices, Helps Boost Sales, Profits

Motorola (s mot) announced today it sold 8.3 million handsets in the second quarter, earning the Mobile Devices division $1.7 billion in sales, and returning the unit to profitability after several quarters of losses. Over 2.7 million smartphones were part of Motorola’s overall handset sales, showing the vast growth in this segment, as the company reported zero smartphone sales in the same quarter in 2009. Although Motorola quarterly results don’t specifically name the biggest catalyst for such a change, it can be summarized in one word: Android.

Starting with the original Droid in November, and more recently with the Droid X (see our review here), Motorola’s adoption of Google’s (s GOOG) smartphone platform is the primary contributor to Motorola’s continued turnaround. Motorola can’t rest on its laurels, however, else it risks repeating its RAZR complacency. For now, though, Droid is a winning play. The initial Droid sold an estimated million units in its first 74 days of availability and the Droid X quickly sold out. Motorola can thank Verizon (s vz) as well as Google, because the largest U.S. carrier has backed Motorola’s Droid handsets with marketing dollars to help raise consumer awareness. It’s a win-win since data-hungry Droids are growing Verizon’s revenues.

Although Motorola’s smartphone share doesn’t yet rival that of iOS4 (s aapl) or BlackBerry (s rimm), I’d think that today’s Motorola news would concern both Apple and Research In Motion, but for different reasons. Apple’s iPhone sales momentum appears to be slowing — it sold roughly the same amount of iPhones over the two most recent quarters — while less than a year after Android adoption, Motorola now sells nearly one Droid Android handset for every Apple iPhone sold.  RIM, on the other hand, still has no answer to more modern platforms like Android or iOS4. That’s expected to change next week when the company will likely launch or share additional details on its new BlackBerry OS 6 platform at a RIM press event. What RIM launches could dictate if it will stay the top smartphone seller in the U.S., or if Motorola’s Android bet will change that over the long haul.

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