Motorola does have TV roots. Avid trivia buffs may remember commercials hawking Quasar television sets with their easy-to-fix "works in a drawer." Motorola exited the business in the mid-1970s, selling it to Matsushita
Motorola, through Motorola Labs' carbon-nanotube research, is looking for a disruptive technology that will provide quality flat-panel displays for a significantly lower cost than current plasma and LCD offerings. The aim: to control the intellectual property and license the technology to manufacturers, bypassing extremely expensive capital expenditures for manufacturing facilities. However, this research is strategic; its ability to pay the bills is far from certain.
Motorola seems to be taking the same approach as PC companies Gateway
And then there's this bit of market reality: Sharp, Matsushita (remember that Quasar?), and Samsung manufacture LCDs and sell TVs and monitors. Motorola must see Proview's Chinese roots as a way to lower costs -- especially for products such as DVDs. Proview's success against such giants is yet to be demonstrated.
No doubt, Motorola's brand name is a strategic advantage. Millions see it daily when they look at their cell phones. But besides Dell, Gateway, and Sharp, it will face such well-known names as Hewlett-Packard
Still, Motorola has made an excellent choice by partnering with a top-five display manufacturer that can also be a source of low-cost Chinese goods. But it faces high hurdles -- the expense of building an image, gaining market share, and proving the quality of its products.
W.D. Crotty can be reached at HawaiiFool@hawaii.com .