Google sells Motorola phone business, keeps patent portfolio
January 30, 2014 | 3:23 am
Well, there’s an example of comedic timing for you. Just the other day, Gizmodo speculated that Google might kill off the Nexus line of tablets and phones in favor of “Google Play Edition” devices from other hardware manufacturers—including, notably, Motorola, who Google owns.
But today, news came out that had Gizmodo saying, “What?!” Turns out Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. The deal includes all Motorola’s phone hardware, but Google is keeping most of Motorola’s patents. Google already sold Motorola’s set-top box unit to Arris for $2.35 billion. It only just bought Motorola in 2011 for $12.5 billion. It seems to be a good deal all around: Google gets rid of a money-losing division, and Lenovo strengthens its ability to compete in the global tablet and smartphone market.
So in the end, it seems as though the main point of the acquisition was to get Google another plump, juicy patent portfolio to add to its own, and it couldn’t care less about the hardware. And make no mistake, mobile patents are now more important than ever to Google. Just recently, a patent troll consortium operating under the name Rockstar started suing Google and its Android partners over violation of mobile patents it owns. Last month, Google struck back with a lawsuit of its own against Rockstar, claiming it is unfairly targeting Android vendors. (Not a big surprise if it is; Rockstar includes Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony, all of whom are losing out big-time for their own products as Android dominates the mobile operating system market.)