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Why Lenovo’s Motorola acquisition isn’t really that bad — and could be great

Lenovo K900 hands on wm

For the mostly negative reaction that has greeted news of Google selling off Motorola to Lenovo, you would almost forget that the Chinese company has introduced several drool-inducing handsets alongside hopeful optimism of eventual US releases. Those releases never came and those lusted after handsets fell into obscurity, but Motorola now offers Lenovo a clear avenue into the North American smartphone market. How is this a bad thing?

lephone2

Lenovo’s Android story starts with the OPhone, launched for China Mobile way back in 2009. While that particular handset created buzz simply due to the lack of big name manufacturers producing Android phones at the time, it was the Lenovo LePhone with its intriguing clamshell keyboard “dock” that really caught the attention of many. It was an innovative design unlike what had been seen in an Android phone up to that point. Alas, that device was also destined to remain in China.

And that would mostly be the story of Lenovo: a series of innovative, intriguing designs spanning smartphones and tablets that never quite had the backing to reach the United States. We’re talking Lenovo, the company that introduced the first Intel-based Android phone. The Lenovo K800 proved Intel could hang with the rest of the Android crowd. Then there was the K900, another Intel handset that experimented with a variety of premium finishes and materials, not unlike Motorola’s focus on customization with the Moto X.

These devices, the K800 and K900 in particular, were far from what most considered the typical Android handset from a Chinese manufacturer. These weren’t low-quality, knockoff phones. These were devices that had rightfully earned praise at trade show after trade show, suffering mostly from their limited releases.

Yes, in the United States Lenovo is mostly known as a PC manufacturer, but Motorola gives the company a fresh chance at capturing new users in a market that could have a huge impact on their bottom line. For this reason, it’s unlikely that the Motorola name will go anywhere anytime soon. We’d be surprised if Lenovo scrapped that sort of brand recognition. If anything, we could see Lenovo rolling its current mobile operations into Motorola.

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It remains to be seen what sort of influence Lenovo will have on Motorola’s future plans and their smartphone designs. It’s understandable that many are skeptical about a Chinese company taking over a business grown in the US. We’re hopeful, however, for what could come. It certainly won’t be as bad as many want to make it seem. It could even be great, a faltering company with a strong brand given an injection of resources by a Chinese corporation desperate to break into a new market.




  • Jerel Butler

    ohhh Its quite Edgy I like pointy corner

    • chris_johns

      thats what she said
      …..what

  • chris_johns

    Why google…why

  • Reg Joo

    You forget the damage that will happen to american jobs, that this may(probably will) take away. If not soon, within the future, all the manufacturing jobs associated with this move, will be lost here in the states. remember mighty IBM, which was shuttered, by their buyout, history is repeating itself. Google sold americans out, maybe they want to be like apple, manufacture there, sell here, and reap.

    • Brian Menius

      I’m reasonably certain my new Lenovo computer was assembled in NC, so…

      Please do tell me more about how this is a guarantee that Motorola’s assembly jobs in Fort Worth will move overseas.

      • WickedToby741

        If it’s a ThinkPad, then it’s likely it was. And the number one reason Lenovo has cited as manufacturing here was quick delivery to customers for custom orders. Sounds an awful lot like Motorola’s number one reason for manufacturing here.

        • spicymeatball

          Assembly is where it makes sense. Most if not all the electronic parts are made in china, Japan, or SKorea. It’s a little late to be playing the losing American jobs card. So late!…So late!

    • WickedToby741

      First, Lenovo manufactures ThinkPads in North Carolina.

      Second, IBM shuttered? What rock have you been living under? I assure you IBM is alive and well and the ThinkPad brand has thrived under Lenovo.

      • Scotsman of Loch Ness

        If they use the Motorola name like they do with the ThinkPad name, then I think they will do fairly well. The ThinkPad tablet I bought from then is very nice. Customer Service for US Customers is in the States.

    • Deads

      Maybe actually readup on stuff?
      Like others said IBM is doing great. They sold their laptop/desktop division to Lenovo because they saw no future in it and had already been focusing mostly on servers, support and research and development anyway.

      Before Google bought Motorola a lot of Motorola devices were made in Asia, Google actually brought a lot of Motorola jobs back to the US.

    • Dean Politis

      If Lenovo decides to keep the Motorola ‘s user customizable phone, they would have to manufacture in the US.

    • No_Nickname90

      I’ve always thought there weren’t many USA jobs because we lack the resources to even manufacture here.

      Also, the cost of living is higher in the USA than it is in China, I believe. That is also why a lot of companies outsource.

      People complain about prices being sky high, so companies outsource. Then jobs are lost in your country and people complain about lack of jobs. Sacrifices have to be made.

  • hemipw54

    Great article, agree 100%, can’t wait to see what happens.

  • Keith Young

    at last a bit of sense!!

  • LeeArtis

    ‘It could even be great, a faltering company with a strong brand given an injection of resources by a Chinese corporation desperate to break into a new market.’ Sounds like how China did to this country.

  • Aaron Peromsik

    Excellent points all. But how is their track record on the software side? Which company’s approach will survive?

    • cns2007

      From what I’ve read, they’re known to be very light on UI customization. So kind of a Motorola approach.

      I’m not familiar with their updating history. Hopefully Motorola will take the lead on that.

      • mcl630

        For their tablets, at least, the only customization they do is their own launcher called IdeaDesktop. It’s pretty bad, but easily replaced of course.

        Their updating history (for tablets) is very, very bad. Their 2012 models all shipped with Android 4.0.x, only one model (the A2109) got updated to 4.1.1. Their 2013 models shipped with 4.2.2 (except the A1000 which shipped with 4.1.2), and not a single one has been updated.

        I’ll also note that while historically their tablet hardware has been excellent, starting in 2013 they have gone to crappy Mediatek processors exclusively, and have taken to doing silly cost-cutting things like leaving GPS out of some models.

        I don’t know if the story has been different on the smartphone side.

  • Hrethgir

    The only reason I don’t like this acquisition is that besides the Nexus line, Motorola phones under Google were as close as you could get to a pure Android phone for a decent cost. But with Motorola being bought by Lenova and the nexus line possibly coming to an end, that leaves us at the mercy of manufacturers making a Google Play Edition, and even then the price is a lot more than a Moto X or Nexus. Unless Lenova keeps up what Google was doing, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.

    • http://www.newportessentials.com/ paco cornholio

      This is a good concern, and we should remember that Lenovo will be using alternatives to Google apps for Chinese ‘Android’ devices because Google’s Play store and Google apps are blocked in the Chinese market. As the Chinese market becomes their largest, Lenovo will be focused on non-Google configurations, leaving Moto less of an ally to Google.

      • AbbyZFresh

        Except Lenovo knows that if they want to break into the US market, they must use Google apps because that’s what the Western market uses. They know the Chinese market has different wants and needs than the US. They must cater to both their different needs to be successful.

        At least Samsung includes both, but Motorola is known for using clean stock Google Android interface only.

        • http://www.newportessentials.com/ paco cornholio

          Agreed on what Lenovo will have to do to be successful in the US. But I wonder how committed they will be to our market in view of the size of the Chinese market and their other commitments there.

          • AbbyZFresh

            The US is the only major market that is strong on smartphone purchases and still has the name Motorola ingrained in its history. Lenovo is known to research different markets and how to commit to each of them specifically. This is especially evident in their successfull ThinkPads. If they hadn’t known America doesn’t buy their PC’s they wouldn’t have installed their production plant in the US.

            The CEO said they’ve been watching Motorola closely for many years, they probably know what their competitors are and how to catch them.

          • http://www.newportessentials.com/ paco cornholio

            Good points, and you have to respect the skills and drive of the Lenovo team.

            With ThinkPad, though, they took over a pretty solid management team and a strong brand in a profitable niche of the computer industry.

            Motorola’s management team has been in flux, its brand is weaker and it doesn’t have ThinkPad’s hold on a profitable niche.

            I won’t bet against Lenovo, but on the product and brand side they have a hill to climb.

    • Chad Vincent

      “the nexus line possibly coming to an end”

      Given that their earnings call included a rather enthusiastic mention that the Nexus 5 was their second-best selling piece of hardware, I think the rumors of Nexus’ death may be greatly exaggerated.

  • nvillaco

    Mehhh.. Yes, Lenovo has the potential to make a good phone, but will it ever be as good as what Google would have done? Especially after seeing the Moto X and the direction that product line was headed? I agree that we shouldn’t lose all hope for Motorola entirely but the fact is that Moto + Lenovo will never equal Moto + Google.

    • No_Nickname90

      What if Lenovo designs the phones and Motorola puts the hardware in the phones?

      • nvillaco

        My concern isn’t really about the hardware or the physical design. I’m thinking more about the software. The Moto X demonstrated a Google-centric ui, Google Now voice commands at any time, stock Google apps from the dialer to the keyboard.

        When Lenovo takes over, they will undoubtedly shift focus towards Lenovo apps/ideals just like Samsung, HTC, and LG tweak their Android skin. And while that might be OK (not all oem skins are necessarily bad, some oem features are legitimately useful), it’ll never be as Googley as the Moto X was headed. And as a Moto X user, I always thought the Google in it was it’s best part.

  • Dougau

    Designed and made in China by Chines! What could ever be better than that?

    • matimal

      Ching Chong! What’s the best way to cook dog meat?

  • Kathy Miller

    my&nbspfriend’s&nbspsister&nbspΜ­­­­­­а­­­­­­κ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ѕ&nbsp$­­­­­­­74/հ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­υ­­­­­­r&nbspon&nbspthe&nbspс­­­­­­օ­­­­­­Μ­­­­­­р­­­­­­υ­­­­­­τ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­r.&nbspShe&nbsphas&nbspbeen&nbspwithout&nbspW­­­­­­օ­­­­­­r­­­­­­κ&nbspfor&nbspnine&nbspΜ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ­­­­­­ѕ&nbspbut&nbsplast&nbspΜ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ&nbspher&nbspр­­­­­­а­­­Уcheck&nbspwas&nbsp$­­­­­­­14256&nbspjust&nbspW­­­­­­օ­­­­­­r­­­­­­κing&nbspon&nbspthe&nbspс­­­­­­օ­­­­­­Μ­­­­­­р­­­­­­υ­­­­­­τ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­r&nbspfor&nbspa&nbspϜ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­W&nbspհ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­υ­­­­­­rs.&nbspThis&nbspѕ­­­­­­і­­­­­­τ­­­­­­℮,…&nbspWW&#x57&#x2EGoogleamazingwork2014realeyeuuwt&#46&#113r&#x2E&#110&#x65&#116&#47&#109&#x57&#113&#x5A/

    ★★★ ★�★★ ★★★⥭★ ★★★At least Samsung includes both, but Motorola is known for using clean stock Google Android interface only.

  • Rob Schoenfeld

    Umm okay wait until you start seeing crappy mediatek chips in every lenovo device

    • Sean Royce

      Motorola is still a separate company. This won’t happen.

      • Rob Schoenfeld

        They don’t care about the brand name. They are buying the capacity.

  • aleksandra_smit

    Samsung, HTC, LG…all made in Asia. Apple also made in Asia. And all of them are good manufacturers with great devices ( S4, Note 3, HTC One, LG G2, iPhone 5…) What’s the problem with Lenovo purchase of Motorola? Lenovo…number 1 PC maker ( look what they did to ThinkPad) , 5th smartphone manufacturer and vendor on the world. ( have great devices like K900, Vibe X, P780). On the other hand Motorola saw a losses of $384 in Q4 2013. I really believe that Motorola will be only better in Lenovo hands, that they will keep Motorola brand and made phenomenal and powerfull devices available on all markets. ( example, in China there is a commercial for Moto X BUT YOU CAN’T buy it anywhere, how silly is that?!) Maybe if they sold some devices there in China ( one of the biggest market), the company wouldn’t have problems and losses.

  • aleksandra_smit

    Lenovo knows that if they want to be present on US market they have to bring devices with Google apps and don’t worry they will do that, they are not stupid! Billions are at stake! There would be different configurations of devices for US and for Chinese markets, as with other manufacturers.
    I have a feel that people don’t know anything about Lenovo llike that they bought big part of IBM ( ThinkPad brend) in 2005, IBM x86 servers few days ago, they made a first smartphone with Intel processor – K900. I mean I have nothing to do with Lenovo, I’m not their employee, they didn’t pay me or anything, I’m just their fan and using their devices and I’m more than satisfied! Give them a try!

    • nestazhe265

      My Uncle Jacob got a year 2013 Audi TT RS Coupe by working part time
      online. imp source B­i­g­4­1­.­ℂ­o­m

  • socalrailroader

    It bothers me that a communications company is being sold to a Chinese company, we are in a Cold War with them, not to mention a new one with the Russians. I’m all for cooperation and trying to make things work, but this isn’t a good idea. This needs a LOT of scrutiny before anything is approved.