Rumors of significant layoffs at Motorola Mobility in Chicago have begun to swirl this week, with one supposed ex-employee saying that the company has told as much as half of its Chicago workforce that their last day of work will be April 6th. Meanwhile, the maker of a popular Moto Mod for the Moto Z line is also seemingly fearful of the future…

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One source of the rumors seems to be a post on TheLayoff.com, where one user who simply goes by “Ex-Motorolan” says they just lost their dream job.

Motorola Mobility (Lenovo) just tapped 50% of their Chicago workforce on the shoulder to let them know they are being laid off. Their expected last day of work is April 6, 2018. Sad… and to think this was my dream job getting out of college.

Notably, this anonymous internet user hasn’t provided any proof of the layoffs, but they would indeed align with reports of Lenovo’s (and therefore Motorola’s) ongoing downward spiral and need to “rebuild the brand.” Motorola has been bleeding since Lenovo’s acquisition, and there seemingly isn’t much hope of turnaround.

“I just don’t see signs of change,” said Qian Kai, a longtime CICC analyst told Bloomberg last month. “Lenovo’s been caught in the middle of a very awkward situation where it can neither turn the tables on its home turf nor expand quickly enough in overseas markets.”

These rumors of layoffs are being corroborated by comments made by Liangchen Chen, owner of the Keyboard Mod for the Moto Z series of Android smartphones which we told you about earlier this year. When asked by an Indiegogo backer if Moto was canning the Z line, he responded “To be honest, it looks even worse than that…”

He was reluctant to speak about the matter at first, saying “There has been some shocking news recently, I cannot tell publicly.” He did say, however, that the “Z team in Moto was irreversibly impacted,” and after the post on TheLayoff went public, he shared it:

For anyone who missed the previous comment: This is what is going on: https://www.thelayoff.com/t/S3hHqqU

We cannot move on to production until we finish OTA update server implementation with Moto’s side. And the above layoff has a huge impact on current situation and future. This is the most I can tell at this moment.

We can’t help but waiting for everything to get clear.

While this would certainly qualify as a rumor at this point, it’s definitely significant that the maker of one of the most popular forthcoming Moto Mods is seemingly independently aware of the layoffs beyond the anonymous posts online. Having that knowledge would make sense, too, since Motorola has been working closely with their Moto Mod partners for years.

Update: A source close to the company has confirmed to 9to5Google that, indeed, between 1/3 and 1/2 of the engineering staff in Chicago has been laid off.

Update 2: Motorola has commented on the situation, saying that “this did not impact half of the workforce” and that the “Moto Z family will continue”.

In late 2017, Lenovo announced a worldwide resource action that would occur over the next several quarters, and impacting less than two percent of its global workforce. This week’s employment reductions are a continuation of that process. We are reducing our Motorola operations in Chicago however this did not impact half of our workforce there and our Moto Z family will continue.

Earlier this year, renders of Motorola’s entire 2018 lineup leaked online, a shockingly early and comprehensive leak that included the Moto G6, Moto 5, and Moto Z3. It’s unclear what the fate of these smartphones will be, but hopefully the Z line has a swan song in store before it departs.

9to5Google’s Take

It’s not really surprising to see that Motorola is struggling as much as it is. Last year’s launch of about a dozen different phones felt like a hail mary of sorts, with Lenovo basically just throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. If this round of layoffs is actually happening, it tells us at least two things: The modular Moto Z bet isn’t paying off, and not much else is sticking.

For Google and the Android ecosystem in general, the second death of Moto is yet another unfortunate casualty as the market increasingly becomes a war between Samsung and Apple (and Google, but Mountain View still has a ways to go before smartphone hardware relevance).

What do you think about it? Let us know in the comment section below.

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