In August of this year, Motorola announced a new department called Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP). The goal of ATAP is to be Motorola Mobility’s skunk works and pump out two to three major technological advancements to be used in Motorola’s next generation of smart phones. The department was set up during Google’s takeover of Motorola’s phone business, and the Tech giant is clearly swinging for the fences with ATAP by hiring the former head of DARPA Regina Dugan. Clearly no lightweight, Dugan has already begun recruiting AI experts, metallurgists, and acoustic engineers to work on such projects as vastly extending battery life, improving smartphone cameras, and voice recognition software. A unique twist to the ATAP is that each of their cross-functional teams will only stay within the department for a maximum of 2 years. This concrete end date is meant to instill urgency and finality into their planning cycles.
It has been several months since this skunk works was created and he haven’t head a peep from them yet. That could easily be taken as both a good or bad sign. Good sign – they are working so hard that they don’t have time for press releases; bad sign – all is not well in the mad-scientist laboratory. Either way, if ATAP does not come out with some blockbuster tech within the next year, Motorola could be permanently relegated to being an also-ran in the smart phone market. While we applaud their effort of setting up a skunk works, it remains to be seen if anything revolutionary will make it through Motorola’s once dysfunctional structure all the way to the market.