Google won’t have the Motorola albatross hanging around its neck for much longer. Unnamed sources tell Reuters that Chinese computer vendor Lenovo is close to buying Motorola Mobility from Google for around $3 billion, which backs up a similar report from China Daily claiming that Lenovo would buy the one-time mobile phone titan for $2 billion. Although we don’t know when a deal to buy Motorola will be finalized, Reuters‘ sources say that an official announcement could come as soon as Wednesday. Reuters also says that the deal is expected to include “some” of Motorola’s patents.
Google originally acquired Motorola less than three years ago for $12.4 billion as a way to shore up its mobile patent portfolio to protect against lawsuits from Apple, Microsoft and other tech companies. The acquisition was a borderline disaster for Google, however, as Motorola’s patents turned out to be worth much less than originally thought and sales of Motorola devices kept tanking despite a massive infusion of marketing dollars to promote devices such as the Moto X.
The deal makes a certain amount of sense for Lenovo, which has been trying to crack the American smartphone market in the same way that Samsung has over the past few years. The trouble is, though, it’s not clear whether Motorola has a strong enough brand in the United States anymore to really make a difference.
UPDATE: It’s official. Google has announced that it will sell off Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Interestingly, Google says that it “will retain the vast majority of Motorolaâ€™s patents, which we will continue to use to defend the entire Android ecosystem,” so it looks like Google still thinks the Moto patents have enough value to make them worth keeping.