It's been an interesting few years for Motorola. Being bought by Google in August of 2011, then being split up and having the handset business sold to Lenovo in 2014 for $2.91 billion. And now it appears that the Motorola name will be disappearing pretty soon. When Google bought Motorola, it was largely for the patents. They spun off Motorola Solutions – which is now a totally separate company – then kept Motorola Mobility around for a bit and sold it to Lenovo in 2014. While Google kept the thousands of patents that Motorola held. It was smart by Google, because it means they can be used on any Android device. And keep manufacturers out of the courtroom, hopefully.
We've heard for quite a while that Motorola's name might disappear, but that Lenovo is looking to use the Moto line as their high-end line of devices. Motorola's COO, Rick Osterloh, was speaking with CNET at CES today in Las Vegas and stated that users shouldn't be surprised to see "Motorola" disappear from their next smartphone. But the Motorola M will still be there, however accompanied by Lenovo's own logo. Osterloh said that they will slowly be phasing out Motorola, but focusing on "Moto". So Motorola won't be completely gone, just half of the name, really.
This is all part of a much larger plan for Lenovo. The main reason why Lenovo wanted Motorola was because Motorola has strong relationships with the carriers in the US and other regions where Lenovo does not currently sell their devices. It's said that Rick Osterloh and his team will be taking over the mobile business in Lenovo. Which will mean bringing the Vibe line of devices to markets where Motorola is already selling devices. And also bringing Motorola devices to markets where Lenovo is already selling them. We saw this already with Motorola re-entering China last year. Osterloh said in his interview, that he expects to bring the Vibe line of devices to the US, but don't expect it in 2016.
A bit of sad news for Motorola fans. The Motorola name has been around since 1928, and essentially created the cell phone and has been the only American smartphone manufacturer for quite a while. We haven't heard anything about what will happen to their headquarters in Downtown Chicago at the Merchandise Mart. But given that Lenovo is in China, it wouldn't be too surprising to see many of them move into Lenovo's HQ, leaving a lot of empty jobs in the US.
Update: Motorola has reached out to us regarding the term "Motorola" being phased out from their devices in the future:
"Motorola Mobility continues to exist as a Lenovo company and is the engineering and design engine for all of our mobile products. However, for our product branding we will utilize a dual brand strategy across smartphone and wearables going forward using Moto and Vibe globally. "Motorola" hasn't been used on our products since the launch of the original Moto X in 2013."