Google sell Motorola to Lenovo - 2 years after buying them

Well here's an odd one. Two years ago Motorola Mobility (the handset arm of Motorola) was purchased by Google for $12.5bn. At the time, it looked like a patent grab to fight off the threat of Apple (and Microsoft, who has been more successful at squeezing money out of Android OEMs). Motorola and Google were kept seperate internally, with Google operating pretty much as a seperate company - but with Google influence.

For more than a year, people's assumptions that the purchase was one for patents seemed to be accurate - Motorola hadn't done much in the way of contributing to Android as a consumer OS for consumer phones. Until the Moto X - whilst not a huge commercial success, it was interesting. It received a great critical reception and an ok commercial reception, it was the start of something good.

More recently, Motorola began what seemed like some potentially market disrupting moves by releasing the extremely cheap Moto G - which was also a great phone! Cheap Android phones are pretty much universally awful, and here we had an excellent phone that you could get sim free for £130 (or £99 Pay as you Go on Tesco Mobile). Things were looking good, Motorola's seemingly good capability in building a good phone coupled with Google's willingness to sell things as close to material and labour cost as possible was looking like a promising matchup.

But today it has been sold to Lenovo for $3bn and surprise! Google get to keep most of Motorola's 10,000 strong patent library. We were right, and that's disappointing.

However, with recent rumours of Google dropping the Nexus line of phone in favour of Google Play editions (of which I am a fan) and Samsung moving their focus away from their own (awful) attempts at software design and engineering on their phones to favour Google's own flavour of Android - I am optimistic that this move is part of a wider plan to make Android better across a wider portion of the market.

On a related note, this will probably go down as one of the top weird surprises in tech news for 2014. (This was shortly before it was confirmed).