Motorola Mobility LLC, a hardware unit of Google Inc, plans to launch a new round of layoffs in China, part of an ongoing worldwide retrenchment as the smartphone producer is trying to turn from loss to profit, a PR staff member with the company's Chinese operation confirmed Sunday.
A total number of 1,200 jobs will be cut around the world, which "are a continuation of the reductions we announced last summer," Si Xuanjun, director of Motorola's public relations department in China, told the Global Times Sunday, but he would not say how many employees in China will be impacted by the decision.
In August 2012, the company announced on its website that it would restructure its businesses worldwide, slashing 4,000 jobs and closing one-third of its 94 offices, in hopes of reducing costs and returning to profitability.
All of its Chinese offices outside Beijing have since been closed, leaving only 700 employees running its operation in China, of which half are technology engineers and half are marketing staff, an engineer at Motorola Beijing told the Global Times Sunday on condition of anonymity.
"We have not yet been informed of the details of this second-round layoffs," he said, expressing concern that the action might cloud the launch of Motorola's new phone, which has been planned for after June.
Si said, "It's very hard for the Chinese employees concerned, and we are committed to helping them through this difficult transition. In order to fully comply with local law, we will not be able to immediately notify employees in China who will be impacted by this action."
Wang Yanhui, head of the Shanghai-based cellphone makers' trade body Mobile China Alliance, told the Global Times Sunday that Google is not likely to stop cutting costs at Motorola Mobility until the cellphone maker is able to develop products that are competitive either in technology or in price.
But it's difficult for Motorola to do so in the current smartphone industry, where rivals including Apple Inc and Samsung control the necessary technologies and hardware for producing high-end smartphones on a large scale, while ZTE and LG Electronics hold price advantages, Wang said.
Data from US-based market research firm Gartner Inc indicated that Motorola accounted for 1.9 percent of the total mobile phone units sold around the world in 2012, ranking ninth after players including TCL Communication at 2.1 percent, Huawei Technologies at 2.7 percent, LG at 3.3 percent and ZTE at 3.9 percent. The list was led by Samsung at 22 percent. In 2011, Motorola's market share was 2.3 percent.
Google values the global mobile phone market and is also working closely with other smartphone makers like LG rather than relying solely on the newly acquired and money-losing Motorola, noted Wang, who predicted that Google may sell off Motorola.