Google's Page: We're Selling Motorola Mobility, Keeping the Patents

Shortly after a rumor surfaced saying Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, Google CEO Larry Page confirmed the deal. He said Lenovo is paying US$2.91 billion, and is only getting the Motorola Mobility hardware business. Google is keeping the patents it picked up when it bought the mobile phone business from Motorola to use in its Android OS patent protection fights.

Lenovo to buy Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.91 billionLenovo to buy Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.91 billion

"We acquired Motorola in 2012 to help supercharge the Android ecosystem by creating a stronger patent portfolio for Google and great smartphones for users," Mr. Page said. "Google will retain the vast majority of Motorola's patents, which we will continue to use to defend the entire Android ecosystem."

Google's decision to spend $12.5 billion on Motorola Mobility for its patents isn't a secret. When the deal was first announce in 2011 Mr. Page said, "Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies."

The deal may leave Motorola Mobility's patents in Google's hands, but that doesn't mean they're worth the price the Internet search giant paid. So far, Google hasn't had any success leveraging the patents in court. Most recently, U.S. and German courts handed Motorola Mobility setbacks in its patent infringement fight with Apple, and the FTC ruled last January that the company must license its standards essential patents to competitors, including Apple.

Selling off Motorola Mobility gets Google's fingers out of the business of designing and manufacturing its own smartphones, and that's not a market where Google was as focused. Mr. Page said,

The smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices. It's why we believe that Motorola will be better served by Lenovo—which has a rapidly growing smartphone business and is the largest (and fastest-growing) PC manufacturer in the world.

Mr. Page confirmed that the buyout deal hasn't gained regulatory approval yet in either the United States or China. He didn't, however, say when he expects the deal to close.