Motorola Sees Opportunity in IPhone Coming to Verizon

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The head of Motorola's mobile-phone business said he sees opportunity for his company when the iPhone comes to additional carriers in the U.S.

"I'm comfortable with the dynamic that would create," Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola and CEO of Motorola's Mobility group, said of speculation that Verizon may soon get to sell the iPhone. The iPhone has been exclusive to AT&T in the U.S. since it launched in 2007 but constant rumors have the phone coming to Verizon.

Verizon has put a lot of marketing muscle behind Droid, a brand that the operator owns and promotes but is featured on phones from multiple manufacturers. Motorola made the first Droid phone. Because of that investment, Jha doesn't see Verizon significantly changing its commitment to Droid, even if it does end up selling the iPhone.

"It seems unnatural for them to walk away from Droid," Jha said, speaking during an Oppenheimer technology conference on Tuesday. "I don't think the value we bring to Verizon becomes any less important when the iPhone is there."

In addition, should the iPhone become available on Verizon or any other operator, new opportunities will open up for Motorola, Jha said. "When the exclusivity goes away at AT&T, the motivation to have other players there is definitely going to be higher," he said.

In other words, when AT&T no longer has an exclusive deal to sell the iPhone, it may be more interested in putting marketing muscle behind other smartphones, including potentially some from Motorola.

Jha commented on a range of other topics, including a potential trend away from unlimited wireless data plans. He had some suggestions that wireless users may find sobering.

As wireless users become more aware of the amount of data they are consuming, they'll play a more active role in managing efficient use of data, he said. For instance, users may send photos to a "virtual queue" that actually uploads the photos when the user moves into Wi-Fi coverage, rather than sending the data over a 3G network, he said. Once consumers see that such actions reduce their data consumption every month, they'll be more active managing their data use, he said.

Many consumers have become used to essentially unlimited data plans and may not like having to think about how much they are consuming. AT&T opened up discussion about moving away from unlimited wireless data plans when it started offering tiered data plans recently.

Jha also expressed his satisfaction with the Android platform. "What I love about Android is, Android is evolving today faster than any other ecosystem in wireless today," he said.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is

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