Motorola names new cell phone chief

The company selects former Qualcomm executive Sanjay Jha, 45, to head up its beleaguered mobile-device business and become a co-CEO, leading the release of several new phones.

Motorola has picked an industry veteran to take the helm of its troubled cell phone divison.

Sanjay Jha, co-CEO and head of mobile devices for Motorola Qualcomm

On Monday, the company announced that Sanjay Jha will be co-chief executive and head of the mobile-device business. Motorola said earlier this year that it will separate the mobile-device business from the rest of the company . And since the split was announced, it had been searching for someone to head up the division.

Greg Brown, who only came on board as Motorola's chief executive late last year, will act as co-CEO. Brown will head up the company's broadband network division.

Jha, 45, is a smart choice for Motorola, as it tries to turn around its cell phone business. For the past 14 years, Jha has been at cell phone chipmaker Qualcomm, where he most recently ran the company's CDMA division. Qualcomm's CEO, Paul Jacobs, wished him well in a press release, saying Jha had been instrumental in helping Qualcomm become "the No. 1 wireless semiconductor supplier."

Jha will certainly have his work cut out for him. Over the past year and a half, the company has lost market share and seen its stock price plummet amid heavy losses as it struggles to find a hit product to replace the Razr. Last year, it fell from the world's second-largest supplier of handsets to third.

Last week, Motorola surprised Wall Street with a small profit for the second quarter. But the company's handset division continued to drag on earnings. Most of the gains in the second quarter came from cost cutting and from its Internet and cable businesses. Still, the company managed to hang on to its market share position, a surprising result, as many analysts had expected No. 1 Nokia and No. 2 Samsung to pick up share.

Now Motorola is looking toward the future. The company is expected to release several new phones, including ones with touch screens, in time for this year's holiday season. The hope is that these new products can help put new life into the company's tired device lineup. And with Jha at the helm of the mobile-device unit, the company can move forward with the planned split, which is expected to be complete in the third quarter of 2009.

 

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