Whether you name it Lenovorola or Moto-Novo, you have to call this week’s sale the biggest news to Android as a whole in a long time. Lenovo agreed to pay $2.91 billion to Google for Motorola and that price includes a cross-licensing agreement of the Motorola patents that Google acquired in 2011. Lenovo will also get 2,000 patents of its own out of the deal.
As I noted during the week, Lenovo effectively bought market share in regions where it has little to no brand presence. Think of North and Latin America in particular here, although there are other areas where the company will benefit too. Add the smartphone sales of Lenovo and Motorola in 2013 and you get the new no. 3 handset maker in the world as Lenovo jumps past LG and Huawei in the global market.
I think the deal is a good one for Lenovo. But what does it mean for Motorola and its fans? Note: I include myself as one of the latter, having been a happy Moto X owner since August.
For now, not much. Lenovo said it has no intention of ingesting Motorola’s brand. And why should it when it has such a rich history in the mobile space? Not only that: Slapping Lenovo on top of Motorola handsets won’t do anything good in those areas where Lenovo isn’t a strong name.
Based on the conference call after the deal was announced, I got the sense that little would change for the Motorola of today. The Moto X and Moto G execution plans will continue and so too will other pipeline products. I don’t expect heavy Lenovo-influences skins to bog down future Motorola phones. The only open question that concerns me is: Will Motorola continue to aggressively push Android software updates now that it’s out from Google’s ownership?
That feature, along with other innovative functions are what has made a comeback of sorts for Motorola. A perfect example is the low-cost Moto G that my colleague Alex Colon reviewed this week. For $129.99 on Boost Mobile, for example, you can’t buy a better handset. Even at the $179.99 direct price for other carriers, the Moto G is a steal:
“The phone comes out of the box running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), but an update to Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) is rolling out now (though it hasn’t made it to my phone yet). KitKat is still pretty rare to find even among the high-end devices out there, so the fact that you’re getting it on a budget device is pretty incredible. By comparison, even the brand-new Boost Max ships with a severely dated Android 4.1.
Motorola has made almost no modifications to the UI. You don’t get features like the touchless control and active display that are present on the Moto X, but you do get some nice additions like Motorola Assist and Motorola Migrate.”
The “Keep it Simple, Stupid” principle is in full effect with Motorola’s smartphone strategy and if Lenovo wants to maximize its nearly $3 billion investment, it will continue to let Motorola do what it does best.
I’ve heard some talk that Lenovo could also have dibs on a future Nexus device out of this deal. We’ll have to see, although it wouldn’t surprise me if this turns out to be true. Meanwhile, the current Nexus 5 appears to be getting a facelift as early as this coming week. Android Central has evidence suggesting a February 4 date for the red Nexus 5, at least on Sprint. If you haven’t seen the phone in red yet, the best image I’ve seen comes from the always reputable @evleaks.