No Relief For Siemens
By Carlo Longino, Thu Mar 03 00:30:00 GMT 2005

The company's chairman says its mobile unit will again turn a loss this quarter, and handset sales figures reiterate its slump.

New Siemens head honcho Klaus Kleinfeld told reporters he doesn't expect the company's beleaguered handset unit to post a profit in the current quarter, continuing its woes.

Gartner's fourth-quarter and full-year handset sales figures, released today, mirror earlier numbers from other analysts and reinforce Siemens' slide. The company's market share fell to 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter, down over 3 points from a year earlier, and more than a point from the previous quarter. It conceded the number-four in the quarter to LG, its sales trailing the Korean company by 700,000 units.

Kleinfeld didn't give any real news on the fate of the unit, which has been on the block for several months now. The company let its self-imposed "fix it, close it or sell it" deadline of January 27 pass by, and the head of Siemens Communications tried to talk the unit up at 3GSM last month, saying cost cutting and new products will make it "more successful than today" -- but the company's meager product plans (like launching 2 UMTS handsets in Europe this year, compared to Motorola's plans for 16) don't leave too much optimism the unit will carry on it its current form. It's looking like Siemens wants to sell the handset business, which is bleeding a million euros a day, but nobody wants to buy it.

Perhaps the most damning evidence the handset business is on the way out came from Siemens' giant boat parked out in the sea off the Cannes shoreline. In years past, the Siemens Mobile logo was painted on the side. This year, it just read plain ol' Siemens. Looks like the writing is on the wall, albeit a boat wall...