Google holds on to Motorola's Advanced Tech unit in Lenovo deal

Google holds on to Motorola's Advanced Tech unit in Lenovo deal

Summary: Google has decided to retain the Motorola group responsible for generating IP.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Google, Lenovo
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Google might be selling its Motorola hardware business to Lenovo, but it won't be letting go of the handset maker's prized research unit, the Advanced Technology and Projects group.

Omitted from announcement that Google had reached a deal to sell its smartphone-making unit to Lenovo was that it will hold on to the unit responsible for the company's experimental technologies, which have included work on electronic tattoos and pills with chips in them for authentication.

Headed up by former director of DARPA Regina Dugan, Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects Group will be folded into Google's Android unit according to the Verge, which is headed up by Sundar Pichai, the VP also in charge of Google's Chrome and Apps efforts.

Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects Group last year launched a modular smartphone initiative called Project Ara, which aimed to deliver a smartphone exoskeleton with a variety of hardware modules that can be used to customise the device. Motorola this month claimed to have gained 40,000 'scouts' from 111 countries for the open hardware project, but the developer kit, expected to arrive sometime this winter, is yet to be released.

Google announced on Wednesday that it was selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91bn. In similar fashion to the soon-to-be-completed Microsoft-Nokia deal, Google will retain Motorola's patents but will license its portfolio to Lenovo as part of the transaction.

That arrangement extends to technologies that the Advanced Technology and Projects group has produced, the Verge reported.

Google purchased Motorola Mobility in 2011 for $12.5bn in a deal that was widely thought to be mainly been a patent play. However, under Google's ownership, the company continued to make mobile hardware using the Android platform, including the customisable Moto X.

While several of the devices have been met with good reviews, none have been a breakthrough success for Motorola.

Meanwhile, Google did not appear to give its new acquisition the support that might have been expected. Despite buying itself a mobile handset business, it used outside companies, such as Samsung and LG, for its own-brand Nexus hardware.

More on Motorola

Topics: Mobility, Google, Lenovo

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Motorola

    "it (Google) used outside companies, such as Samsung and LG, for its own-brand Nexus hardware."

    And Asus.

    Google never trusted Motorola to make world-class products. They went with LG again for the 2013 Nexus 5, in part because Google was displeased with the initial efforts of the Moto X. Was supposed to be released in the the early part of 2013 but delayed until 3rd quarter as Google told Motorola to do better. At the same time the Moto X was being delayed, Google CEO Page was in South Korea drooling over the LG G2 prototype that became the basis for the Nexus 5.

    Ironically, then the LG G2 and delayed Moto X were both announced within days of each other (last week of July, first week of August) and then released about the same time. Oh, and they were priced the same -- about $600 for both. The cutting edge G2 puts the Moto X to shame. Dual core CPU with 720p vs Quad core Snapdragon 800 with 1080p. For $600, which would you buy? The G2 every time.

    I said then Motorola would NEVER be given a Nexus phone until they could engineer something like the LG G2 from scratch. The well-received Nexus 5 was then built on the LG G2 foundation.

    Since then, the Moto X has had several price cuts, but it should never have been priced over $350 off contract.

    _________

    Asus has manufactured the Nexus 7 for Google the past two years. Samsung did the awesome Nexus 10. Motorola is not at that world-class level.
    ChazzMatt