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The Bulletin

Google resets its consumer device strategy

Posting in Technology

Google may have sold Motorola Mobility, but it has stacked its bench with formidable engineering talent that it inherited from Nest. The group’s talent and resources better position Google to bring its own gadgets into the marketplace.

It’s only been a few years since Google acquired Motorola Mobility. Google gained a massive patent portfolio that was intended to fortify its Android mobile operating system against IP lawsuits. However, the company was never actually integrated into Google, lost billions, and the patents were far less valuable than was expected.

The $2.91 billion sale of Google’s Motorola Mobility smartphone unit to Lenovo this Wednesday was a far cry from the $12.5 billion that Google paid for it in 2011, but Google has retained many of the Motorola patents. More details have emerged since the transaction revealing that it was part of a broader shift in strategy at Google.

It’s now been revealed that Google was negotiating to sell Motorola in parallel with its acquisition of Nest. Google will continue to pull the strings over the Android ecosystem, and having Lenovo as a major device OEM strengthens the platform. What the Nest team will do next is the question, and it may surprise us all.

Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell and many of his engineers worked on the original iPod team at Apple. They’ve since been focused on home automation with the Nest thermostat and more recently, a reimagined smoke detector. They are disruptors, and that bodes well for Google's future.

Products like Google Glass and the company’s glucose sensing contact lenses are less conventional than smartphones and tablets, but are miles away from being mass-market products (the lenses are also only experimental). Fadell and his team could help Google create devices that do sell and broaden its business.

— By on January 31, 2014, 8:36 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure