By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Motorola plans a major expansion of its consumer electronics presence through the company's first brand-licensing program.
The company approached other companies during International CES, here, in private suites at the Convention Center and at the Venetian Hotel. The company expects its first licensed products to appear in the home audio, portable audio, computing, and connectivity categories. Some of the first products are targeted for first-quarter availability to retailers.
As part of the program, Motorola will offer intellectual property licenses and industrial-design expertise when needed, said Ray Uhlir, brand, trademark strategy and licensing director in Motorola's Personal Communications sector, which is spearheading the licensing initiative. Motorola will also launch "some umbrella marketing efforts" to support licensees' advertising and promotional activities, he said.
The licensing program, Uhlir said, will leverage Motorola's brand awareness, reputation as "an innovative technology company," and reputation for reliability. "Thirty percent of consumers [surveyed by Motorola] think we're in the camcorder business," he noted.
The initiative will also enable Motorola to "leverage the competencies of each partner" to develop products more quickly than Motorola could if it tried to develop the competencies in house, he said.
Motorola will review licensed products for quality and safety and ensure the products have "a Motorola look and feel," added Yvonne Verse, Motorola PCS's intellectual properly VP. "We have a longtime heritage in technology licensing, and now we're going out with trademark licensing," she noted.
Motorola, founded in 1930 to build radios for automakers, was at one time a major player in the home and portable radio markets and the TV set market. The company currently manufactures and markets Motorola-branded wireless phones, cordless phones, FRS radios, wireless broadband gateways, cable set-top boxes, and a handful of home audio products, including a DVD-receiver with integrated high-definition cable receiver.
Under the licensing program, Motorola is targeting a wide array of CE devices that "fit with our vision of mobility and with being connected at the home or office," Verse said. The products would complement existing Motorola-marketed products, fill in gaps in those lines, and extend the company into new product categories, said Uhlir, who previously headed IBM's brand strategy and licensing program. Plasma displays and other types of monitors, for example, could complement Motorola's set-top-box business, he said.
Display monitors are part of the home and portable entertainment category targeted under the licensing program. Other targets are personal and business communications, connectivity (possibly including Ethernet cables, memory cards, home networking and home-systems integration), home surveillance and related aftermarket software for PCs and wireless phones.
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