Google's sale of Motorola to Lenovo is the best news that Windows Phone has had in a long time. It could mean a serious Lenovo-Motorola commitment to Microsoft's smartphone operating system.
Before Google bought Motorola Mobility in mid-August, 2011, Motorola was eying developing a Windows Phone device. Motorola Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Jha told an investors conference less than a week before the sale that "we'll certainly be open" to Windows Phone, according to Bloomberg.
Once the sale was announced, though, it was clear that Windows Phone was not going to be in Motorola's future. Google was not going to build a phone based on Microsoft's smartphone operating system. Google CEO Larry Page made that clear when he said this in announcing the buyout:
"Motorola Mobility's total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers."
Now that Motorola will be part of Lenovo, things may change. Earlier this month, Lenovo confirmed that it's investigating developing a Windows Phone handset. JD Howard, vice president of business operations & worldwide business development at Lenovo's Mobile Internet and Digital Home told ZDNet that his division has proposed a Windows Phone to top management, and that if it gets the go-ahead, Lenovo will likely release a Windows Phone handset in 2014.
A Lenovo Windows Phone could be a big win for Microsoft. Windows Phone now does reasonably well in Europe, with a 10% market share according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, but it's struggling in the world's two largest smartphone markets -- the U.S. and China. In China, it has less than a 1% market share.
Lenovo, based in China, could give Windows Phone a big boost in that country. So with Motorola freed from Google, and Lenovo itself already considering Windows Phone, Microsoft has a chance of making some inroads.