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Why Icahn Made His Motorola Move

Stocks in this article: MOT VZ AAPL GOOG

SCHAUMBURG, Illinois ( TheStreet) -- Motorola (MOT) is in the spotlight after activist investor Carl Icahn snapped up an additional $86 million worth of the phonemaker's shares, underlining the compay's growth potential.

The purchase takes Icahn's stake in Motorola to 10.4%, according to The Wall Street Journal, and highlights the company's momentum in the fiercely competitive smartphone space. Icahn's move comes at a time when Motorola is undergoing a major metamorphosis designed to boost its smartphone sales.

Motorola Droid 2

Motorola is in the process of splitting into two companies -- one for networking equipment, the other for mobile phones and TV set-top boxes. Last month, the gearmaker also announced a deal to sell most of its wireless network infrastructure assets to Nokia Siemens Networks for $1.2 billion.

Despite intense competition, Motorola's phone business is already enjoying success. The company expects to sell 12 million to 14 million smartphones in 2010 and recently launched the Google (GOOG) Android-powered Droid 2 phone.

Sold via Verizon (VZ), the Droid 2 offers twice the speed and memory of the original Droid phone and is already being cited as a major positive for Motorola and its investors.

Motorola is also preparing to launch its Droid Pro phone later this year to challenge Apple's (AAPL) popular iPhone 4.

Analyst firm NPD Group recently reported that Android had overtaken Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry OS as the most popular U.S. smartphone operating system, thanks partly to Motorola.

Motorola shares crept up 2 cents, or 0.27%, to $7.52 in Friday trading, mirroring the modest advance in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq gain 0.38%.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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