Update: Google has announced that the deal is official on its investor relations site, and Motorola had its say too. The deal is worth $2.91 billion, with $1.41 billion paid at closing ($660m in cash and $750m in stock). Lenovo gets 2000 patents in the deal, plus a licensing arrangement with Google. Original post follows.
Google is always doing surprising things, but this is probably not something anyone would have predicted yesterday. Google is reportedly preparing to sell off Motorola Mobility to China-based OEM Lenovo for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2-3 billion. The deal could be completed as early as today and would finally give Lenovo a foothold in the US smartphone market.
This report comes by way of both Reuters and China Daily, which don't tend to report on such dealings lightly. Google bought Motorola Mobility back in 2012 for $12.5 billion, but that included Motorola's valuable cache of patents. If the deal outlined in the rumors is accurate, Google will be keeping most of the patents, which were valued at $5.5 billion at the time of purchase. Reuters is reporting that Lenovo is getting some useful patents in the deal, though.
It was a popular theory in late 2012 that Google was planning to flip Motorola and keep the patents. Maybe that's what was going on all along, but the launch of the Moto X and US infrastructure build-out made it seem like Google was in it for the long haul. Motorola Mobility has been losing hundreds of millions for Google since it was purchased, but Google is one of the few companies that can absorb such losses. If Google isn't able to make Moto profitable, what are the odds Lenovo is? Techcrunch reports that Google has wanted to sell the mobile company for some time, but was holding off for tax reasons.
We might know if this is really happening in a matter of hours, until then, feel free to speculate wildly and set stuff on fire.