With Motorola sale and Samsung peace, Google finds practical exit to an unconventional (and expensive) deal


In the nearly ten years Google (s GOOG) has been a public company, it has been defined by a curious mixture of ambition, futurism, and unpredictability. This week, Google showed that it also knows when to move on.

The big announcement was Google’s decision to offload its Motorola handset business to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Snap reactions were easy to come by Wednesday afternoon. Those aligned with Google rivals Apple (S AAPL) and Microsoft (S MSFT) were quick to hoot at the bargain-basement selling price compared to the $12.5 billion Google agreed to pay for Motorola back in 2011. Those more inclined to support Google pointed out that Motorola’s patents helped Google defend Android against patent attacks (to some degree) and that Google’s intervention likely prevented an iconic mobile phone maker from folding completely.

There are some nuggets of truth and gaping holes in each of those arguments. But…

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