Motorola stalls on GPRS handset announcement

According to Motorola, the company has an order from a customer for 500,000 GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) handsets. It just won't name the company -- presumably a major carrier -- even though it had previously announced that it would reveal the vendor's name on March 26.

At the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany, last month, Mike Zafirovski, Motorola's executive vice president and president, personal communications sector, announced in a news conference that not only had 500,000 GPRS handsets been ordered, but that Motorola had already shipped 150,000 of them. Zafirovski declined to name the vendor or the exact model of the GPRS handheld but added that an announcement would be made the following Monday. That announcement never came.

"We have not made that announcement yet and we have no time line as to when it is planned," said Gosha Gayer, a spokeswoman for Motorola UK on Tuesday. A Motorola spokeswoman in the US did not immediately have a timeline for the announcement either.

Gayer declined to comment on why the announcement had been delayed, adding that it was her understanding that Zafirovski hadn't made any such pledge at CeBIT in the first place.

Motorola, which is to release its first-quarter financial report after the close of the New York stock exchanges later Tuesday, is expected to report its first loss in 15 years. Analysts expect a loss of US$0.07 a share before charges, according to 24 analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial. For the same quarter last year, Motorola posted a profit of $0.20 per share.

At the CeBIT trade show, Robert Growney, Motorola's president and chief operating officer acknowledged that Motorola was expecting a first-quarter loss due to a steep drop in demand for mobile phones and semiconductors. "It's a recession (in the US economy) as far as I'm concerned, specifically in electronics and it's much more pronounced in the US" Growney said at the Motorola news conference.

"But we will have good news soon. GPRS is here and ready now and I am confident in our ability to regain momentum," Growney said at the time.

"We are first with GPRS, which is a particular point of pride for us," Zafirovski had added.

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