Motorola fire 77 Windows Mobile devs; wholesale shift to Android coming?

Motorola has announced plans to cease Windows Mobile development at its Plantation facility, laying off 77 employees in the process and further fuelling rumors that the beleaguered handset manufacturer is considering a wholesale smartphone switch to Google's open-source Android platform.  The news follows Motorola's decision to axe 4,000 staff across the US, in the face of what are expected to be very poor Q4 2008 financial results.

The Android speculation was initiated by the company's Spanish director of mobile devices, Oscar Rodriguez, who informed press that Motorola would all but cease production of Symbian devices in 2009 to prepare a new range of Android-based handsets for the holiday season.  That change would have left the company with three platforms – their own basic OS for entry-level devices, Android for mid-tier devices, and Windows Mobile for smartphones – but it now looks as though the two top levels have been merged.

Motorola will announce its Q4 2008 financial results, together with figures for the whole year, on February 3rd.  Last December, the company confirmed it would be permanently freezing pension plans and, temporarily, cease contributions to 401(k) plans held by US staff; it also froze salary increases for staff in multiple markets.

[via Engadget Mobile]