Can Lenovo/Motorola (Lenovorola?) challenge Samsung's Android dominance?

Can Lenovo/Motorola (Lenovorola?) challenge Samsung's Android dominance?
Google has agreed to sell the Motorola devices division to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. We've covered that news, as well as the fact that Project Ara is staying with Google, and the possible reasons why Google may have decided to make the deal. But, now it's time to look beyond the what and the why and take a gander at what this means for the Android ecosystem moving forward, especially when it comes to the dominance of Samsung.

You might think that the issue is as simple as adding Motorola's market share with Lenovo's to figure out what the new combo company is made of and how it compares to Samsung, but it isn't quite that easy. As we already talked about before, one major consideration for everyone in the Android ecosystem is the deepening relationship between Google and Samsung. There are also considerations in regards to the very different markets that Motorola and Lenovo work within. Let's start with the broader issues and focus in as we go. 

Google and Samsung

As we have learned recently, Google and Samsung have been engaging in some pretty epic talks since the beginning of the year at CES. The first news to come out of these talks was the global patent deal between the two companies that will serve to strengthen both companies and the Android ecosystem as a whole when it comes to patent lawsuits. Earlier today, we heard that the talks have continued and Samsung may have agreed to tone down its Android software customizations, including the Magazine UX that we saw on the next line of Galaxy tablets at CES, as well as promoting the Google Play content stores rather than Samsung content stores.

We've talked a bit about a conspiracy theory that maybe Google's side of the agreement to get Samsung to tone down its Android software was to get out of the smartphone hardware game by selling Motorola. That may be true, or it may just be that Google needed to sell Motorola in order to remove any conflicts when negotiating with hardware partners who may have seen Google as a competitor while it owned Motorola. Whatever the truth there, it is clear that Google and Samsung have a much different relationship now than what we've seen over the past couple years. 

Some sources close to the talks have described the relationship between the two as having gone through a "sea change", and that may be true; but, if it is, that carries its own troubles, just as Google owning Motorola did. Samsung is already far and away the leader in not just the Android ecosystem, but the entire global smartphone market. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung sold 86 million smartphones worldwide in Q4 of 2013, which made up 29.6% of all smartphone sales around the world. 

A closer relationship between Google and Samsung is a double-edged sword. Samsung already controls a huge amount of the ecosystem, and getting closer to Google will only serve to worry other hardware makers. It seems likely that the new relationship with Google will at least keep Samsung focused on Android a bit more, even with its own Tizen on the way. And, a focused Samsung is more likely to keep hold of what it has, instead of losing share to a competitor, like the new Lenovorola mashup, at least in the short term. The long-term possibilities of this deal pose far more risks to Samsung's dominance than either Motorola or Lenovo separately could have done.  


If there is one thing that we have to say, it is that Lenovorola works as a portmanteau far better than Googlrola/Googrola/Goorola ever did. Of course, that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, it is something that had to be said. 

In terms of the actual combination of Lenovo and Motorola, there is a lot to like about this deal. Those of us in the U.S. and Europe may not have much sense of Lenovo as a smartphone maker, but the company is likely much more successful than you would think. Let's just say that there's a reason why Lenovo can afford to pay almost $3 billion for Motorola. Lenovo is very successful in China and Asia and adding Motorola could be just what the company needs to find a way into the U.S. and European markets. 

Market share

Strategy Analytics put out some new numbers in regards to today's announcement to prove that point. According to the numbers that Strategy Analytics released a couple of days ago, Lenovo alone was the fourth biggest smartphone manufacturer in terms of global shipments in Q4 of 2013. Lenovo had 4.5% of shipments in Q4 by itself, putting it behind only Samsung, Apple, and Huawei. If you were to add in Motorola's shipments, the new Lenovorola would jump to 6% of total shipments, putting it just ahead of Huawei (5.7%), though still well behind Samsung (29.6%) and Apple (17.6%). 

A Lenovo/Motorola combination would already be the third biggest smartphone manufacturer in terms of global shipments, and that number is likely to be even higher for Q1 of 2014, because the inexpensive Moto G wasn't released until halfway through Q4 and didn't really hit its full rollout to the U.S. and more of Europe until this month. And, the Moto G has already been a hot seller on the Indian grey market, and will be officially released in India next week. That's not even counting the Moto X which has just expanded to Europe this month as well. 

We're not saying that this is going to add huge numbers to Motorola's contribution, but Motorola is a company on the rise right now, which speaks well to Lenovo's future and why Lenovo thought the company was worth almost $3 billion. Additionally, Lenovo isn't just getting Motorola in this deal, but it has acquired at least some of the Motorola patents. Google's Larry Page said that his company was going to keep the "vast majority" of Motorola patents, but that does indicate that some patents will be going to Lenovo, and it is likely that Lenovo will license more patents, which will definitely help as it expands into new regions.

All of that, and we still didn't even mention the Moto Maker options that Motorola offers. Google was able to help Motorola get the project up and running in the U.S. and it is expected to soon expand to Europe and Latin America. The Moto X may not have caught on in the U.S., but the potential of Moto Maker is undeniable, especially as Motorola continues to expand the customization options with new materials, maybe more technical customizations in the future like choosing your processor or RAM, and of course there are always options for more devices like tablets and wearables to make their way into the Moto Maker world. And, as mentioned, Lenovo has a better line on the Asian market, which is one area where Motorola has not gone, and therefore neither has the Moto Maker software. 


The combination of the two companies also doesn't have any real overlap in terms of market penetration, so it is much closer to simply adding one and one than it might be with other companies. Motorola has a presence in North America, and is pushing into South America and Europe, while Lenovo has the Eastern Hemisphere covered fairly well. Not to mention that Lenovo has a diversified business that can gain a good amount from Motorola's expertise. 

Lenovo recently purchased IBM’s x86 server business for $2.3 billion, and soon after announced that it would restructure its company into four groups - Enterprise, Ecosystem and Cloud Services, PC, and mobile. The idea is that the enterprise group will be the profit generating group while the others sort themselves out. Lenovo has been the world's largest PC maker, but as PCs have become less popular the company has begun to pivot towards mobile devices. Its mobile products have been successful, but it is still relatively new in the market, and Motorola has one of the longest histories in mobile out of any company on the planet. Motorola's expertise in mobile radios alone could be huge for Lenovo. 

Of course, Motorola will also be gaining from Lenovo. As mentioned, Lenovo has been the world's largest PC maker, and much of that comes from its success in the enterprise market. The mobile enterprise market is still in flux with the apparent demise of BlackBerry, and no company has been able to really fill that space. Lenovo clearly has the software expertise to be a player in the enterprise market, and Motorola has the brand name and penetration in the markets where new enterprise solutions are needed the most. Samsung and Apple already have the jump on Lenovo, but neither has really solidified itself as the go-to option for businesses. 


As we mentioned when we talked about why Google may have made this deal, one potential reason may be the one that CEO Larry Page gave: maybe Google thought that the best bet for Motorola to find success was not with Google, but with Lenovo. Despite the interesting and Googley moves that Motorola has made over the past couple of years, Lenovo is a better fit than Google. The most obvious reason being that Lenovo is a hardware company aiming to expand in the smartphone market, and expand into regions where Motorola already has a presence. Google is still a software company at heart. It may dabble with things like Google Glass and Andy Rubin's burgeoning robot army, but at the end of the day Glass is likely to end up as more of a glorified reference device for a different kind of wearable than a real hardware division at Google; and, Andy's robots are more likely to be manufacturing robots than anything useful for the general public.

In the end, the deal makes sense all around, and it definitely sets up a new competition to watch. It will take time for the deal to be approved by international regulatory bodies, and more time for Lenovo to sort out how it will integrate Motorola, or how Motorola will run in general; but, once that is all sorted out, there will be a pretty big new entity in the smartphone world, and specifically the Android world. Lenovorola may not be a direct threat to Samsung in the next couple of years, but Motorola has already begun the fight in emerging markets with the Moto G, and Lenovo has the capability to challenge Samsung in the enterprise market; so, it's not impossible that this deal could both help Samsung in the short term and hurt it in the long term. 



1. Derekjeter

Posts: 1515; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

I hope they do bring better build phones than Samsung.

4. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I have a Note 3 and couldn't ask for more. Perfect phone.

6. nokia12

Posts: 610; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

no Lenovo can't .. there is only 1 thing in this world that can beat Samsung Nokia + Android...

8. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I don't think so. Nokia fanbase < Samsung's fanbase

12. nokia12

Posts: 610; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

majority Samsung fans are long time ex-Nokia fans( excluding USA ) but they settled for Samsung because there was no android on it.. they have been asking android on nokia for 5 years now but they never got it.. so they settled with Samsung.. the day they see a true nokia + android they Will leave Samsung in a heart beat.. imagine a lumia 1520,1020 with Android... compare it with Samsung note 3 .. imagine if lumia 520 came with android what a destructive phone it could have been.. it sold 9 million units in windows phone 8 which most people don't even like..

14. james004

Posts: 486; Member since: May 15, 2013

you are swinging same hopeless Boomerang that blackberry fans were before bb10. keeping hoping.... even if it comes true, nokia install android on its phones. which we all know they wont. it will not make nokia any more successful company let alone beat samsung. samsung is like AIDs. they make these ugly devices for cheap price that everyone buys. also once a year they make good devices. (flagships)

16. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Yeah, that's how AIDS works, alright... It's cheap and everyone gets it...

17. nokia12

Posts: 610; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

what does blackberry has to do with it here..? blackberry never launched Android.. bb10 was great but it was very very late and when it came it didn't come with large amount of apps and came at a super high price tag... both HTC and blackberry problem has been with pricing they charge more than Samsung why would anyone buy it ? nokia in its prime was never famous in USA , but around the world it was dominant by a long margin.. so Americans don't relate with nokia well..

33. Topcat488

Posts: 1416; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

What does Nokia have to do with it... They NEVER launched Android either, pot calling the kettle black! Most Samsung fan base are NOT EX-Nokia Fans... And now that NOKIA belongs to M$ they never will be IMO, at least not ME. Nokia sucks now dude. Bring Normandy and see.

31. fireblade

Posts: 717; Member since: Dec 27, 2013

No.... Samsung make ugly devices for expensive price. Look at entry-mid range phones from Samsung. They are overpriced.

24. giri.1131

Posts: 22; Member since: Feb 21, 2012

I have a note 3 bro. . its the best phone right now which fulfills all requirements of mine. . Name one alternative to the note 3 ??

27. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Certainly not the HTC One Max. LG G Pro 2 is probably the closest thing to rival the N3, much like the G2 rivaled the S4.

26. brrunopt

Posts: 742; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

They already do , the K900 is made of f*cking stainless steel

2. NokiaFTW

Posts: 2072; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

There's simple answer to this question, NO!

3. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

As much as I want to say yes, everyone knows that's going to be impossible. Can't wait until my Moto X arrives in the mail! Countdown four days!

19. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Yeah, I'm ordering mine next week. :)

28. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I have an extra promo code to anyone who wants it. Just let me know. :)

32. Kaiser2007

Posts: 173; Member since: Nov 16, 2013

Wow. I love to have it. But it's expensive for me even with the promo code.

5. Avenger827

Posts: 46; Member since: Jan 19, 2014

It's not a question.... :p

7. bugsbunny00

Posts: 2265; Member since: Jun 07, 2013

samoogle,lenovorola,...what the HELL is happening!?..

11. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

I prefer Molenovotorola, but that's just me...

22. neops

Posts: 297; Member since: Jan 28, 2014

More like NOVOMOTO

9. Mr_Awesome

Posts: 20; Member since: Jan 02, 2014

Well Moto its been fun. You will be missed

10. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

No, as things stand Lenovo cannot"challenge" Samsung. But they do not need to for this to work. It is an interesting move and these two companies compliment each other well, at least on paper. The more fascinating question for me is what does this move mean for Samsung and it's relationship with Google, as well as as Sammy plans for both Tizen and future Windows Phones.

34. Topcat488

Posts: 1416; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

Samsung is doing it the right way, by making hardware for all OS's possible... they're working in Android, Tizen, Windows, etc, and not limiting themselves to just 1 Operating System... That means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, everybody is getting a job from Samsung, even here in the USofA. Go Sammy Go.

13. amirxd

Posts: 10; Member since: Jan 04, 2014

Lenovorola, Lemotovo, Motolenvo, Motovorola or Lentorola!!!

23. neops

Posts: 297; Member since: Jan 28, 2014

LEMITOMO (guillotine in greek)

15. navi13

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 29, 2014

..yeah..i can see much clearer now the benefits of being a lenovorola, on both sides of the planet...well, come what may, i still am, and would probably be, a motofanatic for a longer years to come..if not forever.

18. Arirank

Posts: 40; Member since: Jan 19, 2014

Nahh.. Nahh.. Nahh.. :p

20. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

I love the name Lenovorola :D

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