Motorola is promising not to give up its pure Android ideals as it changes hands from Google to Lenovo.
Lenovo's $2.91 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, announced in January, is now official. It brings to an end more than two years of stewardship by Google, which purchased Motorola in May 2012 for $12.5 billion. (Google will retain and license most of Motorola's patent portfolio as part of the deal.)
Over those two years, Motorola has revamped itself, paring down its product line and launching nearly-pure Android phones with a few measured improvements, such as touch-free voice controls. Compared to other Android devices, like those of Samsung and LG, Motorola's phones have less bloatware and fewer arbitrary design changes. That won't change under Lenovo, according Rick Osterloh, Motorola's president and chief operating officer, wrote.
“We will continue to focus on pure Android and fast upgrades, and remain committed to developing technology to solve real consumer problems,” Osterloh wrote in a blog post. He also noted that Motorola will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lenovo based in Chicago, and that the Moto and Droid product lines won't go away.
Meanwhile, Lenovo celebrated the acquisition by noting that it had become the world's third-largest smartphone maker. “By building a strong number three and a credible challenger to the top two in smartphones, we will give the market something it has needed: choice, competition and a new spark of innovation,” Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
Why this matters: Lenovo sees the acquisition as its ticket into the U.S. smartphone market, where Motorola has strong carrier relationships and brand recognition. But while phones like the Moto X and Moto G have received critical acclaim, they haven't stopped Motorola's earnings from plummeting. In its quest for growth, Lenovo may feel the pressure to add more made-to-order phones and pointless carrier exclusives that clog the software upgrade cycle. Now that the acquisition is official, we'll see whether Motorola can stick to its word and stay true to its ideals.