Iridium satellites fulfill Motorola strategy

WASHINGTON - The launch of the first Iridium satellites last month in a planned constellation of communications satellites culminates an effort begun 10 years ago by Motorola Inc. in Schaumberg, Ill., to kill the cellular telephone business, Terrence Heng, vice president for external technology, told a forum of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Jun 1st, 1997

WASHINGTON - The launch of the first Iridium satellites last month in a planned constellation of communications satellites culminates an effort begun 10 years ago by Motorola Inc. in Schaumberg, Ill., to kill the cellular telephone business, Terrence Heng, vice president for external technology, told a forum of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Motorola has long been dominant in mobile communications; it was the original developer of automobile radios, hence its name.

Company officials set up a "minority report" team of 50 people to see if cellular telephony would impinge on the company`s existing business and, if so, determine how to throttle it in its infancy, Heng recalled. Instead, the decision was to enter the market and try to shape it to the company`s strategy.

Heng, a panelist at the Government-University Industry Research Forum sponsored by NAS, used cellular telephony as an example of the company`s strategy to derive 60 percent of its business from products launched within the past three years. That level is now 50 percent, he said.

Also, as part of its strategy to grow 15 percent each year, Heng said, "We need to create a new billion-dollar business every year." The company currently has sales of about $30 billion, of which 62 percent are outside the United States, with that level projected to rise to 75 percent in 2000.

In China, for example, Motorola`s sales rose from zero five years ago to $4 billion last year, and employment to 10,000, also from zero.

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