What could Google’s Motorola sale mean for your next phone?

November 11, 2014 : TECHFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

What could Google s Motorola sale mean for your next phone

With the rumour mill around the tech industry never seeming to stop, and speculation always rampant about every minor development, most major changes are often heralded months in advance. Which is why it was such a surprise last week when Google announced more or less out of the blue that it had sold its Motorola smartphone brand to Chinese firm Lenovo.

Once the dust had settled and the terms of the deal became clear, the general consensus seems to be that this is a good move for everyone. Google gets to offload a loss-making part of its company, while Lenovo gains a ready-made platform with which to launch its much-planned assault on the Western smartphone market. Win-win, no?

But what will it actually mean for you? And will it be the case that a year or two down the line, you'll have a new option to consider the next time you're in the store trying to choose between an Apple and a Samsung?

Lenovo – big company, little brand

Lenovo occupies somewhat of a strange position in the tech sector, at least in the West. It's a huge company – and was the world's largest maker of PCs last year – and yet its not exactly a household name. Tell someone you've got the latest Apple or Samsung and there's likely to be much oohing and aahing over it, but a Lenovo? The best you can probably hope for is a blank stare.

That's because most of its success is down to its huge presence in its home market of China – when you're successful in a nation of more than a billion computer users, you can make a lot of money without ever having to worry about the rest of the world. In Europe and the US though, its profile is much lower. Sure, it's growing steadily in the PC market and you probably won't need binoculars to spot someone using a Lenovo-branded laptop, but it's not a name that trips off the tongue.

But like a good Bond villain, the company is dreaming of taking over the world. And with smartphones now being the number one area of focus for any smart tech firm, the addition of Motorola's technology – and, more importantly, name recognition – could give it the kick it needs to make the jump to the mainstream in the West.

So can they really do it?

One thing Lenovo has going for it is a solid track record when it comes to taking existing companies and building on them. Analysts have likened the deal to its buyout of IBM's PC division in 2005 – which transformed the firm from a niche player in the PC sector to the market-leading powerhouse it is today.

In a statement, Google boss Larry Page said Lenovo's expertise and track record can make it a "major player" in the Android ecosystem, with the Google head honcho highlighting its great hardware knowledge and global reach.

So in terms of skills, resources and ambition, you can bet that Lenovo has what it takes to bring the Motorola brand right back up to the top table of smartphone makers. It may only be a matter of time before we're talking about a big three, rather than the current Apple/Samsung-dominated technology, which could be great news for everyone except the very indecisive.

But what about the phones?

What impact the deal will have on the actual phones Motorola produces is still a bit up in the air, but one suggestion is it might lead to an overall price rise. Last year, the brand wowed the press with products like the Moto G, which showed you don't have to spend huge amounts to get the latest technology. But TechRadar noted the great price of the device was probably only possible with helpful subsidies from Motorola's Google masters.

It also speculated that – given Lenovo's previous interest in larger-screen phones rather than budget gadgets – it will be shooting for the premium and phablet markets with its future Motorola products. Not great if you're a bargain-hunter, but if you like the biggest and best screens, things look promising.

So what does Google get out of this?

Aside from the fact it's getting rid of a loss making division – it paid $12.5 billion (£7.59 billion) for Motorola just two years ago, but Lenovo is taking it off its hands for a bargain-basement $2.91 billion – it will allow the internet giant to focus more of its resources in other areas – so you might be able to look forward to more shiny new ideas from the internet behemoth sooner rather than later.

Mr Page hinted the company will be able to focus much more closely on technologies such as wearable computing and the home market as a result of the deal. And with Google already showing an interest in both these areas – through its Google Glass and the recent buyout of smart thermostat maker Nest Labs, this might mean it can concentrate even more on making devices that don't just complement your life, but can run it.

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