Lenovo buys into the US Smartphone Market

Lenovo purchases Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9B

levonovo moto 5

On 29.01.2014 the Internet was abuzz over Google’s announcement that it had sold Motorola Mobility to Chinese-based Lenovo for $2.9B.  The news is significant because Google has only held Motorola Mobility for 19 months; and it’s selling the manufacturing business to Lenovo at a $9.5B loss.  That’s enough to give any stockholder the willies.

I’ve seen a number of reports that differ on how long Google held the property.  Some say August of 2011. Some say May of 2012. The key point is that Google didn’t have Motorola for long; and honestly, Google didn’t buy them for the manufacturing business.  They never used Motorola to produce a Nexus branded smartphone.  All they were really interested in was their patents.

This is further supported by the fact that Google is retaining most of those patents. While the sale includes a license to most/all of those patents to Lenovo, they will also receive a number of patents, the Motorola Mobility brand and their trademark portfolio.  It also provides Google with some relief – Motorola Mobility’s hardware division has been struggling for quite some time.  And besides… Lenovo has been frantically searching for a way to enter the lucrative North and South American smartphone markets.  Now, it appears, they have a way to do that.

Hopefully, Lenovo will be able to do something more with Motorola Mobility than Google did.  Google really let them sit there and collect dust. They never really went all in; and since being acquired by Google, Motorola – who recently produced both the Moto G and Moto X Android smartphones – was never profitable, operating at a $192M loss last year and a $248M loss in the third quarter of 2013 alone.

Lenovo on the other hand has a decent track record for turning businesses around. In 2005, it bought IBM’s PC business for $1.25B. It’s made steady strides in that arena; and last year over took HP as the world’s largest PC manufacturer. It’s also done a great deal of work to build and expand the ThinkPad line’s perception of value and quality.

Acquiring Motorola Mobility will make Lenovo the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, behind Samsung and Apple, respectively.  With only two possible mobile OS’ to choose from – Android and Windows Phone, as Apple doesn’t license any of its operating systems to 3rd parties – Lenovo can capitalize on Android’s vast popularity and Blackberry’s waning market share.

That last bit is important.

Many feel that with the rapid decline and documented demise of Blackberry, Windows Phone, with Exchange ActiveSync’s solid, well positioned Push system, is becoming the enterprise-messaging platform of choice.  If that ends up being accurate and true, then a deeper partnership with Microsoft may really help Lenovo cement itself as an enterprise equipment supplier in the coming months and years.

Unified communications is something that Microsoft has been trying to get together for a number of years. Their MOC (Microsoft Office Communicator) application handles enterprise-level instant messaging via Exchange. If they can pair that with a secure, enterprise mobile messaging offering via Windows Phone, not only would it help them get back to relevance, but also it would make Lenovo’s goal of getting a foothold in the North American smartphone market possible.

What do you think about Google’s sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo?  Is this a good move? Did Google really just act as a protracted patent troll? Is Motorola Mobility worth saving? Why not give us your thoughts in the discussion area below and let us know what you think?

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Legacy Devices & Android 4 – Why your Ice Cream Sandwich is Gonna Melt

I’ve seen this over and over again – I’ve got a Samsung Galaxy.  Will I get the new upgraded OS for it when it’s released?

I remember back in the day when I had a Samsung i700 on Verizon Wireless here in the US.  Windows Mobile 2003 was about to come out, and the device was fairly new, and should have received the update for it fairly quickly. Samsung came out and stated that the device would get an update; but this was the early days of true smartphones – and apparently, the driver development wasn’t going well.

The device eventually got the upgrade that was promised, but it took Samsung over 18 months to deliver it.  Eighteen months…Eighteen months?!  Are you serious?  Yes, it was well into 2004 by the time the Samsung i700 WM 2003 upgrade was delivered.

Google just released the source code for the latest version of their Android 4.0, code named Ice Cream Sandwich. As such, Samsung, HTC and others are in the process of working on Android 4.0 powered devices. Some of their flagship devices, like Samsung’s Galaxy S II, and HTC Sensation 4G may or may not see some ICS love.

At the end of the day, kids…It’s up to the manufacturer or the carrier, not Google.

This is somewhat different than my experience with the i700 and Verizon.  While it took Samsung a while to get it together, Verizon also did a great deal of “testing” with the new OS before it released it.  While the OEM and the carrier are supposed to partner together to manufacture the device, in the end, the carrier has the final say.  They’re the ones you call when you have a problem – not Samsung…not HTC.  You call Verizon, AT&T…whomever you have your mobile contract with. In the end, they really don’t want you to upgrade, however. They want you to buy a new device.  Think about it…it’s part of how they make their money.

However, I know that both Samsung and HTC have already announced a starter list for devices that will definitely get ICS.  Those lists can be found at the manufacturer’s web site, and should be easily located, so if you’ve got a Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG, etc. device and want to know if you’re going to get the upgrade, the best place to look is their home page.

If your device isn’t going to get an automatic upgrade, it’s not over. You can always root your phone and check out XDA Developers or CyanogenMOD.  More than likely, you’re going to be able to find a version of Ice Cream Sandwich that will meet your needs at either of those two sites.

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2011 Gift Guide Part 2 – Suggested Gifts

Following the 2011 Gift Guide Part1 – Ok, Great! Now what should I buy? article here are my recommendations for just about every budget level, given our recent thorough discussion about Mobile Device Ecosystems.

It’s true.  The hottest ticket items this 2011 Holiday Season are all mobile – tablets, smartphones, music players, ultra-portable notebooks (the netbook is dead) – and the like will undoubtedly find their way to a gift box near you. Ecosystem aside, there are some really cool gadgets out there right now, and figuring out which basket to put all your eggs in can be confusing.

In order to make your last minute gift buying a bit easier, I’m going to take a quick moment and give you a couple recommendations in a couple different categories.  I hope this helps you in your Holiday gift giving.

Tablets

  • Apple iPad2: Ranging in price from $499 USD to $829 USD, depending on the storage and communications options you choose, the iPad has established itself as the clear leader in this category. This is the gadget that all tablet lovers are going to want this Holiday, as it plays music, movies, TV shows, runs applications, and is a great eReader. So if you’re budget is up to it, this iOS powered iDevice will be a sure winner.

  • Kindle Fire: At $199, this break-even priced Amazon, Android powered tablet has been labeled by some as the only non-iOS based tablet that can challenge the iPad. It streams thousands of movies and TV shows instantly via Amazon Prime, runs Android apps, plays music from Amazon’s MP3 store, comes with 8GB of internal storage, and reads Kindle eBooks without batting an eye. If the iPad is outside of your budget’s comfort zone, give the Kindle Fire some serious consideration, as the tablet’s UI and features are sure to improve in the coming months.

Smartphones

  • Apple iPhone 4/4S: Ranging from $99 USD to $399 USD, Apple’s iPhone 4/4S is the most popular smartphone in the US, and likely around the world.  Siri, available only on the 4S, will remake the way users interface with their iPhones, and is perhaps the biggest draw for new and existing iPhone customers alike. If you’re planning on giving an iPhone for the Holidays, order now, as many carriers, as well as Apple, are reporting lengthy lead times and delivery dates that are quickly nearing the end of December.

  • Droid RAZR: If Apple’s smartphone isn’t your cup of tea or is outside your budget, the Droid RAZR, available on Verizon Wireless in the US, also represents head-turning technology within the Android ecosystem. While a little more expensive than the entry level iPhone, at $299.99 USD, it sports “advanced artificial intelligence,” learning the user’s work habits, and speeding up those tasks it knows you’re going to perform most often.

Ultra-Portable Notebooks

  • Apple MacBook Air: As the only non-iOS/Android powered product in this gift guide, the Apple MacBook Air is both a Windows as well as a Mac based computer. The entry level model comes with 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. This ultra-thin, SSD equipped ultra-notebook ranges in price from $999 to $1599 USD, and may be a bit on the pricy side. However, as current models don’t have DVD drives or Ethernet ports, you’ll need to remember to buy the external SuperDrive as well as the appropriate adapter not only for your desktop monitor, but its Ethernet adapter as well; and this will push the entry level price up by $137 USD.  You may also want to invest in a USB hub or two. Despite all this, however, the Air is proving very popular with consumers and enterprise users alike.

  • Asus Transformer Prime: The $499.99 USD Asus Transformer Prime is technically a tablet, but with its $149.99 Transformer Dock, it instantly becomes a powerful, light weight ultra-notebook, capable of satisfying most of the needs for a computing device in this category.  The best thing about this device is its ability to function as both a tablet and keyboard-based computer.  While the device currently runs Android’s Honeycomb 3.2, its sure to get an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, ensuring that the device will provide a number of years of usability at roughly half the price of Apple’s MacBook Air.

As far as digital music players are concerned, the only one really left on the market, besides a slew of off-brand players is the Apple iPod.  You can’t go wrong with ANY of these, from the Shuffle to the iPod Touch.  You just need to pick a price point and a model and go with it.  This is a sure winner with anyone.

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Motorola ATRIX™, the Future of Mobile Computing?

The newly launched Motorola ATRIX™ unleashes the power of the smartphone like never before. Motorola’s revolutionary webtop application makes Motorola ATRIX the smartphone to carry the power of mobile computing inside your pocket. Designed to bring unprecedented computing capabilities to your smartphone, Motorola’s webtop application runs a full Mozilla Firefox 3.6 browser and supports Adobe® Flash® Player to open up all the rich graphics, animations and video on the web. Motorola ATRIX includes a dual core processor with each core running at 1 GHz, delivering up to two GHz of processing power, and 1 GB of RAM. Put simply, Motorola ATRIX is the world’s most powerful smartphone.

Motorola ATRIX is designed to essentially become a user’s primary digital hub to create, edit and enjoy documents, media and content. This is facilitated by Motorola’s webtop application and by the optional Motorola HD Multimedia Dock and Motorola Laptop Dock that provide users with a larger screen, keyboard and trackpad – enabling an enhanced and more interactive experience with their devices.

While in webtop, users are given a window into the smartphone that enables access to all of the device’s functionality within Android. Calls continue uninterrupted if Motorola ATRIX is removed from a dock. Plus, the new Entertainment Centre feature lets you show all of the photos, music and videos you already enjoy on-the-go on a big screen in your living room.

Motorola ATRIX provides consumers with instantaneous access to all their emails, files and media. While using the webtop application, business customers will benefit from the Citrix Receiver application for complete access to commercial desktop-licensed software. In addition to the full suite of office productivity and email applications, users can also access a great number of web applications such as Salesforce.com, Google Docs, and any HTML application or service from a full desktop browser.

Motorola ATRIX runs Android™ 2.2 with access to more than 100,000 apps and games in the Android Market™.

Motorola is highlighting two industry-leading companion docks for ATRIX:

The Motorola HD Multimedia Dock as three USB ports and an HDMI port enabling connections to a keyboard, mouse, speakers and HDMI-compatible monitor for working at your desk, or connecting to an HDMI-compatible television and home theater audio system for enjoying video, music, games and more.
The Motorola Laptop Dock has an incredibly thin design with an 11.6-inch screen, 36Wh three-cell battery that delivers up to eight hours of battery life, full keyboard, stereo speakers, and weighs just 1.1 kilograms. Users simply dock their Motorola ATRIX into the back for true mobility at work, at home and playing on the go in a form factor that’s lighter and smaller than most laptops on the market.

Key features and specifications:

A dual core processor capable of opening web pages twice as fast as most other smartphones, rendering games faster and displaying HD video on big-screen TVs
A full 1 GB of RAM for twice the RAM of most smartphones to deliver effortless multi-tasking, such as watching a movie while receiving and responding to email
The world’s first qHD display for a smartphone, offering high resolution and 24-bit color, making it easier to read indoors and outdoors
Front- and rear-facing cameras for video chat and the ability to record in HD
Up to 48GB of storage (16GB internal and optional 32GB MicroSD card) – enough to store thousands of songs, photos and movies
Optional 3G Mobile Hotspot service for connecting up to four additional Wi-Fi-enabled devices
Biometric fingerprint reader for easily unlocking your phone while providing extra security
Under 11mm thin with an extra large 1930 mAh battery for extended standby and talk time
Two microphones employing noise-reduction technology so your calls will be heard loud and clear in even the noisiest environments.

For more information, visit motorola.com/mobility.

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