Motorola chief ousted amid investor unrest

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The Independent Online

Motorola's chief executive, Ed Zander, is stepping down after squandering the marketing buzz that came with the success of the company's ultra-slim Razr phone.

The handset manufacturer's fortunes dived after it failed to follow up the Razr with another popular model, and Mr Zander's departure comes as shareholders agitate for change.

The billionaire investor Carl Icahn tried unsuccessfully earlier this year to get a boardroom seat, and was expected to make a fresh assault in 2008.

It remained unclear yesterday whether the company's choice of successor represented a big enough change to satisfy dissenters. Motorola asked its chief operating officer, Greg Brown, long Mr Zander's assumed successor, to fill the chief executive slot from 1 January.

Mr Zander will keep the title of chairman until Motorola's annual shareholder meeting in May.

Mr Brown's first challenge will be to refresh its line of handsets, which held so much promise when the Razr was the must-have electronic gadget for Christmas 2005. Follow-up products have failed to dazzle consumers, and Motorola's mobile devices sales are running 36 per cent below last year's levels. Meanwhile, the company faces a mighty new rival, in the form of Apple's iPhone.

Mr Zander led Motorola for four years, jettisoning non-core businesses and focusing efforts on new web-enabled phonetechnology.