An expensive mistake by Google could turn into a golden opportunity for China's Lenovo Group as it expands beyond its success in the personal computer industry.
Google is ridding itself of a financial headache by selling Motorola Mobility's smartphone business to Lenovo for $2.9 billion. The deal announced late Wednesday comes less than two years after Google bought Motorola Mobility for $12.4 billion in the biggest acquisition of Google's 15-year history.
While Google Inc. is backpedaling, Lenovo Group Ltd. is gearing up for a major expansion. Already the world's largest PC maker, Lenovo is now determined to become a bigger player in smartphones as more people rely on them instead of laptop and desktop computers to go online.
Lenovo already is among the smartphone leaders in its home country, but it has been looking for ways to expand its presence in other markets, especially the U.S. and Latin America. The company had been rumored to be among the prospective buyers for BlackBerry Ltd. when that troubled smartphone maker was mulling a sale last year.
''We will be going from an emerging-market player to a worldwide player in smartphones,'' Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said in an interview with The Associated Press.
This marks Lenovo's second high-profile deal this month. The company announced plans last week to buy a major piece of IBM Corp.'s computer server business for $2.3 billion.
For Google, the sale is a tacit admission that a company that prides itself on employing some of the world's smartest people miscalculated how much Motorola was worth.
Google previously recovered some of the money that it spent on Motorola by selling its set-top operations last year to Arris Group Inc. for $2.35 billion.
And Google is holding on to most of Motorola's more than 20,000 mobile patents, providing Google with legal protection for its widely used Android software for smartphones and tablet computers. Gaining control of Motorola's patents was the main reason Google was willing to pay so much for a smartphone maker that was already losing money and market share.
The Motorola patents were valued at $5.5 billion at the time Google took over, according to regulatory filings.
Factoring all that, there's a gap of roughly $1.65 billion between what Google paid for Motorola and what Google is getting from its sales to Arris and Lenovo, plus the original value of the patents. What's not known is the value of