Google/Lenovo roundup: Margins, Nest, Project Ara, Samsung

|By:, SA News Editor

After taking in Google's (GOOG) Q4 numbers, FBR estimates handing off Motorola Mobility to Lenovo (LNVGY) could boost the Web giant's op. margin by as much as 500 bps. Whereas Google proper has an op. margin of 34%, Motorola's losses dragged down the company's total op. margin to 29%.

TechCrunch reports that with Motorola gone, newly-acquired Nest will serve as Google's primary hardware team. Nest, founded by iPod "godfather" Tony Fadell, will reportedly develop gadgets very different from the smart thermostats/smoke alarms it's known for.

Many observers think the Lenovo sale is at least partly tied to Google's recent deals with Samsung (SSNLF). The reasoning: Samsung's reported willingness to embrace a vision of Android closer to Google's (toning down support for custom apps/UIs, and promoting Google apps/services) is linked to Google's decision to sell its mobile hardware unit.

It's possible Google also gave Samsung favorable terms in their recent cross-licensing deal. In terms of patent portfolio/breadth, Google held the upper hand.

In addition to keeping most of Motorola's patents, Google is holding onto the company's Advanced Technology unit, which is responsible for the Project Ara modular phone initiative.

Lenovo says it will keep the Motorola brand in the U.S., and that it aims to eventually pass Apple and Samsung to be the world's largest smartphone vendor.

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