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How 'Lenovorola' changes the mobile world

Mike Elgan | Feb. 3, 2014
Google is selling Motorola to Lenovo. The deal makes Google better, Lenovo bigger and Motorola gets a new lease on life.

Fourth, the sale of Motorola improves Google's relationships with all Android phone makers because, again, it's no longer a direct competitor.

And finally, Google can enjoy a new focus on the core businesses that matter — businesses that involve algorithms and vast data centers.

The sale of Motorola, though reported as a big loss, really changes everything for Google in a positive way.

It also changes everything for Lenovo.

In the U.S., people think of Lenovo primarily in connection with its acquisition of IBM's ThinkPad line long ago. But Lenovo is a major player in China.

The purchase of Motorola will give Lenovo more than 50 international carrier relationships, including all four major U.S. carriers. Those relationships give Lenovo an E-Z pass into international markets with Motorola phones today and with Lenovo-designed and -built phones tomorrow.

It also makes Lenovo the world's No. 3 smartphone maker, behind Samsung and Apple. (The company is already the world's biggest PC maker.)

Ironically, the company least affected by all this in the short term is likely to be Motorola. Lenovo has suggested that for the foreseeable future, it's going to be business as usual.

Motorola is at the forefront of a movement to assemble computers and phones in U.S. factories.

That movement includes other companies, such as Apple. But Motorola is doing something unprecedented with its U.S. manufacturing operations: It's custom-building phones to order and delivering them within four days.

It's unclear whether that's a winning strategy from a business perspective, but Lenovo issued a statement saying "there are now no plans to change Motorola's approach to manufacturing." Of course, it's unknown if plans will exist later.

And Lenovo has proved to be open to the idea of U.S. manufacturing — some ThinkPads, for example, are built in North Carolina.

Lenovo is one of the most successful companies in the world at acquiring companies and turning them into international success stories. A key element of that success is: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I think it's likely that Lenovo will let Motorola continue on its current trajectory, complete with its custom manufacturing business, which turns out devices with wood backing, X8-driven contextual control and feedback and all the rest.

In short, the deal remakes Google by turning the company into a more focused organization, improving its relationships with partners and leaving it with a powerful patent portfolio. It also remakes Lenovo into a genuinely global brand and one of the top consumer electronics companies in the world.

It's a great reshuffling that will probably benefit consumers quite a bit. Google's a better Google. Lenovo's a bigger Lenovo. And Motorola Mobility probably gets to keep being Motorola Mobility.

 

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