In a surprise move today, Google announced the sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion dollars. On the face of it, that looks like financial loss from the original $12.5 billion purchase price by Google in 2012. However, keep in mind that price for just the hardware division, as Google will retain "the vast majority" of the Motorola patent portfolio (licensing them to Lenovo).
In many ways, it’s a brilliant move. Google is better served by the patent protection, but they probably couldn’t just buy them from Motorola in 2012. Instead, they had to purchase the whole package (hardware plus patents) and get into the awkward device manufacturing game. With today’s deal, they successfully spun off the hardware but retain those patents, which is really what they wanted in the first place.
There’s another reason why this may have happened: Samsung. Grab your conspiracy hats and read on why the sale of Motorola Mobility may be a big threat to Microsoft and Apple going forward.