By now, almost everyone knows that the PC giant, Lenovo, has purchased Motorola Mobility. The move took a lot people by surprise, seeing as how Google had just recently purchased the Motorola company. But, as the maker of the first mobile phone continued to tank, it became clear that Google needed to jettison the lossy wing before it was too late.
Enter Lenovo, a PC giant ready to step in and stretch its tendrils into one of the fastest growing markets on the planet — mobile. But what does this mean to the current line up of Motorola devices? That question can only be answered in time. However, there are certain assumptions and predictions we can make about what this purchase will mean to the Android landscape.
Patents and more patents
Although this won't directly effect the consumer, the fact that Google is going to retain a vast amount of patents (approximately 15,000) means a great deal to Android. Why this is important is simple: Google can use this cache of patents to continue to defend Android. The mobile industry is extremely cutthroat, and Apple and Microsoft will continue to come at Android with everything they have. By retaining the majority of the patent portfolio, Google has all the defense it needs to take the fight into the court. This doesn't mean there are nightmare-scenario cases waiting in the wings for Google and Android, it just means Google retains the legal means to keep the playing field level.
One of the key benefits of the Motorola sale is that Google can now go back to focusing on what it does best — software innovation. They desperately wanted both software and hardware “in house” but found out very quickly how challenging it is to focus on both. With Motorola Mobility loosing money fast and furiously, Google couldn't give it the full attention it needed to right the sinking ship — at least not without sacrificing attention to Android. Now, however, Android will have a larger portion of Google's resources. That means faster development, more innovation, and a renewed focus on bringing the best mobile platform to market.
Apple should be concerned
For those concerned about the fate of the Moto X and Droid lineups... well, we all know how fast the mobile space evolves. One minute device A is all the rage, and the next minute, who knows? Even if Lenovo plans on chucking the current Motorola devices, they are sure to bring something big and bold to the table. They already hold some serious devices in their hands (the Vibe X and the K Series), which could easily become their flagship phones. But with the power and innovation of Motorola along for the ride, the sky is the limit.
Android is already widespread. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the fastest-selling mobile devices on the planet. Now, however, the Android platform has a company behind it that knows how to expand, and very quickly. Lenovo proved itself with the 2005 purchase of the IBM personal computer business. Nearly overnight, Lenovo revitalized the Thinkpad series, turning it (once again) into a leader in the business and enterprise desktop marketplace. Lenovo has the same plans with the Motorola Mobility brand. Though it isn't known if the Motorola brand will remain intact (or if the current crop of devices will live on), we know that Lenovo will leverage all the power it has to expand Android farther and faster than anyone thought possible. Lenovo has the track record to easily turn Motorola into a massive force in the mobile landscape.
In the end, however, what this is all about is Lenovo gaining an instant brand in the mobile world — outside of China. Lenovo will have no problem immediately entering into partnerships with both AT&T and Verizon. At first, they very well may continue to push the Moto X and Droid devices; but eventually, I believe they will shift that line up to spotlight Lenovo-branded smartphones that could easily usurp the crown of the current kings and queens of mobile devices.
If there is a downside, it's losing the one company that offered the fastest updates for Android devices. Every Motorola smartphone and tablet I have ever owned or tested always received the latest Android well ahead of any other device. And although the Moto X didn't sell nearly as well as expected, it did wind up being one of my favorite Android smartphones. Hopefully, Lenovo will continue this line... at least until they produce something even better (which probably won't take long).
I look forward to seeing what Lenovo has in store with this purchase. With this kind of leverage and power behind Android, I expect great things to come for what is already one of the most powerful and flexible platforms on the planet.
- Can Android turn the corner in the enterprise with the Lenovo-Motorola deal?
- By ditching Motorola, Google frees Android from distractions (CNET)
- Lenovo-Motorola deal: For Google, it's still all about the patents (ZDNet)
- Lenovo as new 800-pound gorilla: Opportunities, challenges abound (ZDNet)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.