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What We Know About the Motorola-Lenovo Deal (Updated)


With the Lenovo-Motorola deal now official from all parties, we thought a quick recap of everything was in store. Since this move has clearly brought out plenty of your emotions, especially when it comes to thinking about your next smartphone purchase, we are sure you want answers. While we won’t have them all, and should know more tomorrow after Google’s earnings call, we do have plenty to share. 

Quick bullets:

  • Lenovo will pay “about” $2.91 billion for Motorola, including $1.41 billion will be paid at close, comprised of $660 million in cash and $750 million in Lenovo ordinary shares. The remaining $1.5 billion will be paid in the form of a 3-year promissory note.
  • Google is keeping a “vast majority” of Motorola’s patents to help “defend the entire Android ecosystem.”
  • Lenovo will receive a license to the patent portfolio that Google is keeping.
  • Lenovo will still receive over 2,000 patent assets, along with the Motorola Mobility brand and trademark portfolio.
  • Lenovo intends to keep Motorola’s “distinct brand identity.”
  • So what happens to the name “Motorola”? We don’t know just yet. With that said, after Lenovo bought IBM’s PC business, they certainly don’t call them “IBM Thinkpads” anymore. If you want a Thinkpad today, it’s a Lenovo Thinkpad.
  • Can a Lenovo “Moto X” or Lenovo “DROID ULTRA” carry weight with smartphone consumers in the U.S.? That’s what we are about to find out. They certainly know what they are doing on the PC side, having led the PC sales category for some time.
  • Lenovo is going to try to scale Motorola into a global player with their “experience in hardware” and “global reach.” As of right now, Motorola has its Moto X in North America, Brazil, and parts of Europe. It has the Moto G in a number of other countries, but the major global presence is not there.
  • As Page mentioned in his blog post, the deal has yet to be approved in the U.S. or China, and even if it does get approval, will take all sorts of time before that happens. Remember that Google announced plans to acquire Motorola in August of 2011, but that the deal wasn’t approved until the following May. For now, it is business as usual for Motorola and Google.
  • 2014 should still be exactly what you were hoping it would be with Motorola doing the next line-up of phones to follow the Moto X. Larry Page even said he is “very excited” about the smartphone lineup for this year.
  • MotoMaker – staying or going? After sitting down for an interview with Motorola execs at CES, I got the feeling that MotoMaker and customization is here to stay. Well, at least for now. Motorola more than likely already has their 2014 roadmap ironed out, which would include MotoMaker. Once this deal is finalized and they start thinking about 2015, anything goes.
  • Page said that this move will help Google to “drive innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere.” Is it just me, or does that come across as, “We got rid of Motorola so other OEMs could stop worrying about us owning them and focus on making great Android handsets.”?

Updates: A conference call with Lenovo is apparently going on, Re/code has the play-by-play, some of which we have included below.

  • Dennis Woodside (maybe other members of the executive team) will be a part of management, at least for the transition.
  • Chicago HQ of Motorola will stick around for now.
  • There are no current plans to lay anyone off – Lenovo likes the talent that Motorola possesses.
  • Lenovo wouldn’t commit to the Texas Moto X plant, saying that it will evaluate to see what the most cost effective way to win the market is.
  • Lenovo thinks it is in prime position to soon sell 100 million smartphones.
  • Regina Dugan’s advanced research unit (electronic tattoo stuff) was not a part of the acquisition.
  • The Advanced Technology Group (including Project Ara) are staying with Google, as a part of the Android team.

At this point, I think I’m trying to remain calm and positive over the situation. Lenovo is a well recognized PC brand who is looking to acquire a well-recognized U.S. smartphone brand. Can those two mesh and create a smartphone arm that can compete with Samsung and Apple? I hope so. Is it better to have Lenovo behind you than Google? I’d argue that it’s probably not, though Lenovo is the real deal in terms of a tech company. It could have been worse. It could have been Huawei or ZTE or something.

I’d imagine that we’ll know a lot more tomorrow after Google’s Q4 earnings call.

After reading comments from all parties, are you feeling any better?

  • Lisa teller

    This will turn out to be a remarkably stupid and cowardly move on google’s part.

  • jedialan

    I’ll never buy another Motorola phone as long as Lenova is involved.

  • Eddie Spageddie

    Initially a major disappointment. There’s no denying that Moto/Google was on a roll with their recent line of phones, and nobody does call quality better than Moto. No choice but to stay cautiously optimistic.

  • Sporttster

    Me thinks Droid Life hitched it’s ponies to the wrong cart……

  • Keepfiring

    At first I was bummed about this because I like where google has taken moto for software and the moto x hardware, but man have they got some learning to on product launches. Maybe that’s the upside to moto going to a company that has more experience in hardware?

  • Eskimo128

    “Hello, Moto” –> “Hello, Lenovo”. Works for me. 🙂

  • Kevin

    What people do not seem to be considering is it will make more sense for Lenovo to turn Motorola into a Windows Phone. It will go along with their computer sales nicely. Motorola X2 = Windows 9!

  • Kirk Lei


  • Trevor

    What’s happening with Motorola’s 4.4 updates to RAZR HD, MAXX HD, and RAZR M phones?

  • Stone Cold

    Way to early for doom and gloom on this one we got 2 handsets and a bunch of nice apps through the Moto X and G. With Google still holding these patents they can license these out to OEM’s to put in handsets going forward. This move may help the OEM’s feel like Google will let them still make devices in the future. Instead of having to worry like that did with the Motorola aquisition. Plus with Nest and them wanting to get more devices in homes it helps Google keep expanding.

  • Johnny Utah
  • Franklin Ramsey

    Why does it seem like Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” Motto no longer applies.

    • AbbyZFresh

      It hasn’t applied at all since 2004.

  • Tony Page

    Well… That didn’t take long! Just enough time to pour over their assets (patents included), decide what they like, and chuck em to the hell hounds. So that leaves poor Moto with their name in one hand (a Lenovo company) and their … what else?

  • Scott Loucks

    I feel like the parents of my best friend the Moto X just got a divorce. :'(

  • Keith Taylor

    How come Amazon didnt just buy them.. Dont they want a phone…lol

  • Keith Taylor

    Lenovo is the same company that partitioned its memory in its tablets so that you can only use about three to four g’s of memory for apps and after that you are screwed. Bought a Lenovo tablet for my daughter two Christmas’s ago and when i discovered about 8 months later when my girl wasnt playing with it anymore she stated that she couldnt add anymore games. Called Lenovo and was informed that that was just the way it was and that they are not responsible for my perception of how its equipment is suppose to work only that it does work. F&&k them. I will never buy another product from them and even though the MOTO X was my second choice (G2) and I own a Xoom I will never buy a MOTO product now. I have enjoyed my Xoom so much and thought that I would upgrade it as soon as they came out with another but now not even going to happen.

  • hoosiercub88

    This news makes me regret buying my Moto X… I guess this is the first time I’ve ever felt “scroogled” 🙁

  • Jeff C

    Motorovo… 🙁

  • chris_johns

    If verizon doesnt get a nexus phone ill seriously drop android once my X dies which hopefully it wont any time soon…itll be my only deciding factor in a new brand whatever brand makes the new nexus

    • Sqube

      You can go ahead and drop Android, then. After the Galaxy Nexus foolishness, what impetus does Google really have to get burned by Verizon again?

  • I was REALLY considering the moto x… but this worries me. I think Lenovo will be more like other OEMs and have higher pricing plus worse additions to Android.

  • Elliot Kotis

    Motorola on the way up…and it’s down.

  • Hotpie




  • Dan

    I wonder if selling off Moto was part of the deal that allowed Google to bring Samsung back into the fold – They were talking about patent sharing and bringing their custom software back down to reasonable levels. Could this have been the big bargaining chip? One can wonder…

  • Sporttster

    Some of you are talking going to Apple. The only way I could do that is if I jailbroke it. It is just too locked down. I love drag and drop, not having to use iTunes for everything. And their phones are tiny! I’d have to wait till they came out with one that was actually readable, lol…..

    • Robert Macri

      Why would anyone go to Apple? If Samsung agreed to remove their bloat then they could still be a good option. Also Nexus is still around for now and there are the GPE devices.

      • hoosiercub88

        I’d hate to consider it, but frankly I love my Moto X. I’m on Verizon *the ONLY carrier that actually works where I live* so Nexus isn’t an option for me. This news makes the future of the X and future Moto smartphones quite shaky. I don’t want to go back to Samsung unless they seriously tone down TW. I don’t want an HTC device, and even if Verizon gets the new flagship, it’ll be 4-6 months after it comes out.

        • Steve B

          Sammy is definitely going to tone down TW. Maybe not on the S5, but whatever comes after will be very close to stock, considering Google’s implied influence.

      • standardsdt

        I jumped shipped to an iPhone not because I don’t love Android. I just simply didn’t like the Android phones that Verizon was offering and moving to another carrier isn’t an option for me in my area. After having the device for about three months now I can say that I’m happy with the decision just because it works with no issues (much like my Galaxy Nexus). Are there some things that are annoying about the software? Absolutely but they aren’t deal breaker things for me.

        iOS and Android are so similar now that pretty much anyone could jump back and forth between devices. The only thing that screws me up sometimes is finding where certain things are in “Settings”, seems like there was no thought put into where things should be and some stuff require going through multiple presses where as on my Nexus it was usually just two. iOS isn’t terrible, it’s come a long way from where it was two to three years ago but it still has a ways to go in what it offers.

    • Keith Taylor

      Once again I will say that I believe that this is why we havent gotten an N10 yet as well. I said this late last year that something odd was going on.

  • Razma

    it is a dark day in the world of Android….

  • Eric Whitaker

    Its like Google was the parent that had to bring one of its children inside show them how to win the game and sent them back outside

  • Eric Cappa

    Hop on the LG train everyone!

  • ctrlV

    This was just not the best time. Motorola was just starting to turn turn around. Listening to its consumers. I just have a bad feeling about this. I guess no Moto X 2 for me.

  • UnixPimp

    It is true. Motolora is a lousy brand. Google knew it. They just wanted their patents. Google, while selling Motorola for a loss, gets to keep those patents. Motorola is now another failed American electronics company that is now owned by a conglomerate based in the Far East.

    • thedude

      please be specific when talking about Motorola. Theres Mobility and Solutions. Motorola Solutions is here to stay and is still and American electronics company.

  • mlbeep

    So, the Chinese (who own Lenovo) buy the prime phone hardware maker from Google. Not sure this is a good thing.

  • Jérôme Besnard

    It feels like my wife just announced me she cheated on me. When Google bought Motorola, I did not like one bit of the company. Now I recommend the Moto X (over the N5) to all my friends. I’m scared to see where Motorola is going to head from now on.

  • Vanquishgc

    Before everyone brands Google as ‘evil’, let’s break this down and think rationally. They HAD to do this to keep Samsung from doing god knows what, from their own suite of apps, to forking Android, etc.That’s what they mean by protecting the Android ecosystem. Lenovo, while ditching the IBM name, probably knows better than to rebrand Motorola’s phones as Lenovos. Moto still has name recognition, and they know that. More than likely, Lenovo is going to simply give Moto the global reach that they couldn’t do on their own. I kind of doubt they gut the company and do everything themselves. Also, when it comes to other OEMs besides Samsung, I have to imagine this in some way helps LG and even HTC. Being on the retail side of things, I can tell you that while people are coming in looking for Galaxy phones (not even realizing they’re Android), once they catch a glimpse at a G2, or a One, they’re starting to reconsider. Do some research guys, and you’ll find that Samsung is digging a hole for themselves. Their stock is down. While packing in ridiculous specs, and useless software, they’re driving up the overall prices of their own phones, and most people out there are very price conscious. So when they see an S4 at $250, and right now a G2 free after rebate, what do you think we’re selling a lot more of? Same thing with the One. Sammy is all concerned with octa core processors and 2K displays that most people don’t give a crap about, when they should look at the overall value proposition. That’s what the others, including Moto, have been doing. I expect Lenovo to pick up where Google left off, and that’s focusing on user experience, not crazy specs that only 5% of buyers care about.

    • hoosiercub88

      How about you back up your claims with some factual information instead of your personal opinion and banter on the subject.

      • Vanquishgc

        Alright, besides my personal experiences on the sales floor dealing with these devices, what I’m referring to as far as Samsung digging themselves a hole goes back to some articles the Wall Street Journal printed over the last month or so. They’re sticking to the spec wars and packing in useless features. One of Google’s goals with Motorola was to force prices down on handsets to get Android and therefore Google services into more people’s hands. Great plan, really. Somehow I forsee these things being brought up when Google and Samsung execs met up to work out their ‘treaty’ so to speak. By the way, most of the comments here are opinion and banter, so what’s wrong with my two cents?

  • monkey god

    I wonder if Motorola phones will still get the Nexus treatment when it comes to stock Android and updates. If so, then I don’t really mind that Lenovo bought them.

  • callumshell1

    They aren’t going to drop the Moto name. That would be an extremely stupid thing to do.

  • wmsco1

    Reality just hit the fan smoke clears. What do we see? Google buys moto, works out bugs. Makes use of old surplus parts and tweeks user experience. Launches Just Works campaign, And finally sells Co. Now we know why they could sell the phone so cheap. I think that sums it up. They will definitely have to come out strong for 2014 phones to bring the customer base with it.

  • Serpico

    I just purchased a Moto X yesterday ~ and only because it was a “Google” device (albeit a “Moto” device). I know it sounds ridiculous, but I feel like I’ve been betrayed. I’ll probably return the device and try to get my upgrade back. Damn, may just be me but this just feels bad.

  • Chris

    What we know: Lots of nerds are crying

  • BlackMaGiC1o0

    R.I.P “Motorola An Ex-Google Company”