Motorola Splits in Two, But No Word Yet on Mobility’s New HQ

Motorola, which began business in Chicago 83 years ago as the Galvin Manufacturing Co., is officially splitting into two separate companies today: Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) retains the company’s mainstay public-safety radio, bar-code scanner, and RFID businesses, while Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI) gets the cell phone and cable set-top box businesses.

I had expected Motorola Mobility, now headed by former Qualcomm COO Sanjay Jha, to disclose by now the location of the company’s new headquarters. Motorola officials have said Mobility has been considering moves to San Diego, the San Francisco area, or Austin, TX. But Mobility is taking a temporary home in the Chicago suburb of Libertyville, IL, near Motorola’s headquarters in Schaumburg, IL (where Solutions will remain).

Jha, who gave an insightful talk in San Diego less than four months ago, oversees an $11 billion-plus cell phone business that is just embarking on a strategy that anticipates the coming era of mobile data. (Jha told his San Diego audience, “The days of us living off the fumes of the Razor are gone.”)

But as the Chicago Sun-Times notes in a story today, Motorola Mobility will face a test right out of the gate when Verizon Wireless begins to sell Apple’s iPhone, which is currently available only through AT&T. Motorola had relied on Verizon to promote its Droid X and Droid 2 smartphones, which are based on the Android operating system. Now Verizon’s attention will be divided between the two prominent mobile operating systems.

Motorola developed 22 smartphones in 2010, and will be showing off its latest innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show, which begins Thursday in Las Vegas. Mobility’s new products include a tablet computer that runs the 3.0 version of Android, nicknamed Honeycomb.

Motorola’s split calls for shareholders of record to get one share of Mobility for every eight shares of Motorola Inc. they held on Dec. 21. Motorola Inc. shares will then go through a 1-for-7 reverse split and become Motorola Solutions shares.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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