Motorola today posted a major loss in the third quarter and said it is postponing the planned spin-off of its mobile handset unit due to the current global financial downturn. The vendor reported a net loss of US$397 million for the July-September period, compared to a profit of US$60 million in the same period a year ago. Sales fell 15 percent to US$7.48 billion, from US$8.8 billion a year earlier. In a statement, co-CEO Greg Brown said the company is “implementing further cost reductions” that aim to reap annual savings of US$800 million in 2009.

Meanwhile Sanjay Jha, new co-chief executive officer and CEO of Mobile Devices, said: “While our strategic intent to separate the company remains intact, we are no longer targeting the third quarter of 2009, primarily due to the macro-economic environment, stresses in the financial markets and the changes underway in Mobile Devices. We have made progress on various elements of the separation plan and will continue to prepare for a potential transaction at the appropriate timeframe that serves the best interests of the company and its shareholders.” During Q3 the company’s mobile phone business lost US$840 million on US$3.1 billion in revenue, and sold 25.4 million mobile phones. Jha also confirmed reports yesterday that he plans to cut the number of operating systems used by its handset portfolio, to now include Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile (at the expense of Symbian, and LiMo Foundation’s Linux-based operating system). Elsewhere, sales at the company’s healthier units were essentially flat, but they remained profitable. Home and Networks Mobility saw its operating earnings increase 65 percent to US$263 million, on US$2.4 billion in sales. Enterprise Mobility posted operating earnings of US$403 million, up 23 percent, on sales of US$2 billion.