Barely three years after paying roughly $12.5 billion for Motorola’s
mobile phone division, Google cut its losses and sold a good chunk of the business unit to Lenovo
for $2.91 billion, making Lenovo not only the biggest PC manufacturer, but also one of the top mobile phone companies.
According to a release from Lenovo, “Google will maintain ownership of the vast majority of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio, including current patent applications and invention disclosures. As part of its ongoing relationship with Google, Lenovo will receive a license to this rich portfolio of patents and other intellectual property. Additionally Lenovo will receive over 2,000 patent assets, as well as the Motorola Mobility brand and trademark portfolio.”
In 2011, Google surprised the tech industry by snagging Motorola mere months after it split it’s consumer and enterprise divisions into separate entities. The channel half of the company was renamed Motorola Solutions and continues to serve IT industry selling warehouse management solutions, enterprise tablets and mobile retail products (to name a few). At the time of the purchase, Google was making waves with its pure-Android Nexus-series phones that were critically acclaimed, but lost consumer share of mind as companies such as Samsung started pumping out equally impressive smartphones and tablets.
Meanwhile, Lenovo has been cranking out enterprise and consumer mobile products under their ThinkPad line of tablets and laptops. This sale also comes two weeks after Lenovo dropped $2.3 billion for IBM’s x86 server business, which includes System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers and associated software, blade networking and maintenance operations.
Lenovo will have to do some brand boosting once the smoke clears. The Motorola brand, once synonymous with slim, sexy phones, is now far behind Apple and Samsung in the mobile market. It will also be interesting to see if Lenovo plans to introduce channel-friendly Motorola tablets and phones to the enterprise market, potentially competing against Motorola Solutions (though there is probably some no compete clause stemming from the original Google deal).