John Stratton, Verizon's chief operating officer, told the Wall Street Journal that Motorola will have a smartphone when the carrier rolls out handsets for its recently launched Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network. "We've got LTE smartphones on the horizon," said Stratton. "Motorola will be right there."
The comment served to give Motorola Mobility stock an immediate bump, reversing the decline it has undergone since the stock began trading on a preliminary basis earlier in the week.
Motorola and several other smartphone manufacturers have been working to develop handsets for Verizon's LTE network. The network launched with dongles and USB modems earlier this month and consumers have been told they will have to wait a few months for smartphones with voice calling capability.
So what's the hangup?
Manufacturers didn't approve the Voice over LTE (VoLTE) specification until early this year, paving the way for work to begin in earnest on LTE handsets that would have voice calling capability. "As mobile operators begin to deploy LTE, it is essential their networks are aligned around one, common standard for voice and messaging services," explained the GSM Association's chief technology and strategy officer.
Motorola, which once dominated the mobile phone industry, has been seeking to regain at least some of its former glory by splitting itself into two units -- Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions. The mobile phone operation, which is viewed as the glamorous unit, began its first preliminary trading day this week by trading down 9%. Motorola Solutions will continue making public safety products, bar-code scanners, walkie-talkies, and related equipment. Its stock traded up 3%.
Pressed by Wall Street raider and financier Carl Icahn for months to break itself up, Motorola hired Sanjay Jha from Qualcomm and put him in charge of the Mobility unit. He has enjoyed initial success, largely due to Verizon's embrace of Motorola's Droid phones, but he now faces uncertainty due to the looming, but unconfirmed launch of an iPhone model for Verizon Wireless.