It may tax your brain to remember this, but Motorola and IBM once-upon-a-time made computer processors with and for Apple.
On 06 June 2005, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that Apple would begin begin using Intel microprocessors instead of the PowerPC chips it had developed with Motorola and IBM.
The prior year, Motorola had spun-off its semiconductor business. I do not remember that tidbit being included as context for the shift to Intel. However, I do remember pundits-being-pundits and predicting Apple’s demise, as they had been doing since the late 1990s:
“I don’t know that Apple’s market share can survive another architecture shift,” Insight 64 analyst Nathan Brookwood told News.com. “Every time they do this, they lose more customers.”
But it wasn’t Apple that would split apart.
In 1984, Apple had shifted to the Apple/Motorola/IBM PowerPC chip when it abandoned the Motorola 68000 series architecture.
In 2020, Apple would announced it had developed an in-house processor and would begin transitioning computer hardware again. The MacBookPro got its upgrade in later 2021.
The Motorola journey provides an opportunity to examine product globalization and market concentration.
Motorola launched in 1928 in Chicago as Galvin Manufacturing Corp. and focused on a speciality portion of the battery market involving radios.
When the company developed a car radio, Paul Galvin coined the name Motorola. In 1930, Motorola sold its first car radio. In 1940, the world’s first hand-held walkie-talkie, just in time for World War II.
In 1986, Motorola invented the Six Sigma quality improvement process. Not long after that, the company became synonymous with cellular phones. In 1991, Motorola showed the world the first digital telephone cellular system, with calls taking place in New York City.
2000: Motorola completed the purchase of General Instrument in an $11 billion stock swap.
In 2004, the Motorola RAZR cell phone took the world by storm. It became the number two seller in 2005.
Fast-forward to 2008: the Apple iPhone (introduced 27 June 2007) passed the Motorola RAZR as the number one cellular phone in the US.
2010: Motorola sold its cellular-infrastructure business to Nokia Siemens Networks (a story for another day) for $1 billion.
Then in 2011, the company split into Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions.
The divisions that will become Motorola Mobility had $2.9 billion in sales in the most recent quarter, compared with $1.9 billion for the Motorola Solutions segments. However, the $321 million in operating earnings at Solutions was much stronger than the $3 million that Mobility made.
The company’s cell phone division once enjoyed strong sales thanks to the Razr, a slim, clamshell-style feature phone that debuted in 2004 and became a best-seller. As recently as 2007, cell phones accounted for two-thirds of the company’s revenue.
The breakup was originally slated for 2009, but Motorola postponed it, due to the economic downturn. In November, the company announced a definitive date for the long-planned split.
I have very mixed feelings about companies being able to retain names after major restructuring.
I think that companies should not be able to sell or license a brand or product name. Trademark law is supposed to prevent confusion not allow companies to traffic in it by selling names.
Our deference to corporate power and privilege is overwhelming, once you start examining it.