SAN JOSE, Calif. - After years' of red ink and lost share, Motorola Inc.'s handset unit is making a comeback.
Motorola's Android-based handset line, dubbed Droid X, is apparently a big hit at Verizon. But in early-2011, Apple Inc. is expected to launch a new iPhone for Verizon. Right now, the iPhone is only available at rival AT&T.
What will be the impact? Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall believes the iPhone will launch at Verizon in the first quarter of 2011 and estimates ''11.5 million units for the year.''
In total, Verizon will ship 21 million smartphones in calendar 2010, growing to 32 million plus in calendar 2011, ''thus the iPhone could remove any growth for the rest of the Verizon vendors,'' said analyst Mark McKechnie of Gleacher & Co., in a new report.
''We estimate Motorla will ship about 6.2 million to Verizon of a total of 14 million Android units in calendar '10,'' he said. ''With Verizon being Motorola's top Android customer, Apple will clearly have an impact, but our high-level analysis suggests this can be offset by growth at other U.S. and international carriers, including China, where Motorola recently launched three new phones.''
Motorola's Android units to non-Verizon U.S. carriers is expected to grow from 2.5 million units in 2010 to 5.5 million in 2011, he said.