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By | Bill Ray 13th August 2012 09:24

Google to axe 4,000 Motorola Mobility staff

A new kind of design team aka a much smaller one

Under Google's leadership a fifth of Motorola staff will be cut, and a third of the offices closed, shifting the focus onto a handful of devices dialling up the innovation.

Google acquired Motorola Mobility, as opposed to the now-independent Motorola Solutions, in May, but the unit has lost $233m since then, so some significant changes are needed to indoctrinate Motorola Mobility into the Google mindset.

That process will first see 4,000 Motorola Mobility staff out of a job. The cuts were revealed on Sunday in the New York Times, which chatted to Motorola's new chief executive about how the company is changing under Google management and how it's going to compete in the hugely competitive mobile market by employing people who wear their leaving date on their name badges.

That apparently gives a sense of urgency to their work, knowing they've only got two years to create technologies and get them put into phones, but it will be restricted to the "Advanced Technology and Projects" team who'll operate like a startup within the company, developing new technologies and pushing them out to the rest of the organisation.

That organisation will be a good deal smaller once Google has finished with it, dropping everything but the smartest of devices, and perhaps the set-top box division though that could still be sold off, specialising in devices which fit the Google branding of "simple and emotional".

But it's not all blue-sky thinking: Google has dropped in Mark Randall, poached from Amazon where he created the efficient supply chain for the Kindle.

Sanjay Jha, Motorola's former CEO, left as the deal completed, which is hardly surprising as he was employed specifically to plump up the operation ready for sale. Google has also filleted the middle management with 40 per cent of vice-presidents getting the chop as it turns Motorola into an arm of the Googleplex.

Motorola Mobility certainly had some fat to cut, all companies accumulate middle-aged spread when successful, but Google's management style is very unproven outside its core business of selling ads, so making the transition into a company which makes stuff will prove a challenge for both sides. ®

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