Motorola Inc. chief executive Ed Zander rode onto the stage Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show astride a yellow bicycle, joking that he pedaled all the way from Chicago because his company was on "expense controls."
It wasn't the first poke Zander would make about the wireless equipment maker's ailing fortunes, even as he opened this year's major technology show by introducing several new products and services that Motorola hopes will boost sales.
The company recently warned of disappointing sales and earnings from the key holiday selling season, causing investors to dump their Motorola stock and industry experts to use phrases like "tired product" to describe the blockbuster Razr line of cell phones.
Zander referenced analyst concerns by announcing the company's latest phone, then lugging a 20-year old mobile handset the size of a brick to his ear.
"The analysts who are here today will like this because there are a lot of gross margin dollars in this puppy," Zander said, commenting that the phones once sold for $4,000 each. "If I could get some of you to buy some, it would sure help."
Zander then introduced a real new phone model, the Motorizer, that would use Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media software to transfer music purchased from more than 200 Web-based stores worldwide to the handset. The phone will become available the first half of this year, the company said. (MSNBC.com is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.)
Motorola also announced a partnership with Warner Music Group to sell Motorizer phones pre-loaded with music, as well as sell ringtones, wallpaper and videos.
Zander also demonstrated a wireless stereo headset that will play music streamed from the phone using Bluetooth. Controls on the headset, which can work up to 30 feet away from the phone, can also pause songs to take or make calls.
Motorola also said it was one of several companies working with Yahoo Inc. to incorporate a new mobile application, Yahoo Go, into its handsets. The software delivers search, photos, local information, e-mail and other Yahoo services.
On the cable TV product front, Motorola said it would expand its "follow me TV" feature to Comcast Corp. systems this year. The service allows customers to pause a program on a TV in one room, then restart it on a monitor in another part of the house.
Motorola also talked about its recent purchase of Good Technology Inc., a BlackBerry rival that provides real-time e-mail for smartphones. The company will soon roll out a program that links Motorola's Q phone to Microsoft Outlook calendars, scheduling and mail services.
Zander noted that Good's chief executive Danny Shader had joined Motorola only recently.
"Did you check the benefits?" Zander asked. "We got you a good stock price," he joked, referring to stock options new executives typically receive. The lower the price of the options when issued, the greater the potential profit when the stock rebounds.
"Bad joke," Zander said to the amused crowd.