Late yesterday, news broke that Google was unloading Motorola Mobility to Chinese PC maker Lenovo for $2.91 billion. But lost in the shuffle is one interesting nugget worth teasing out: Google is actually retaining a small but highly advanced arm of Motorola that focuses exclusively on high-tech R&D.
Motorola’s top-secret Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group will stay with Google, according to a report from TechCrunch. You’re probably familiar with the division’s first project, the eminently customizable and very good Moto X. But ATAP is also the arm of Motorola responsible for high-minded concept gadgets like the modular Project Ara smartphone, and electronic tattoos and pills that double as sensors. As Fast Company’s Mark Wilson noted earlier this month, ATAP just so happens to be headed up by former DARPA chief Regina Dugan.
All of which bodes well for Google’s suddenly very, very robust X division, which has been swallowing up world-class R&D teams left and right. (Although rumor has it that Dugan may be integrated into Google’s Android division.) By shedding the Motorola brand and the more mundane (and perhaps worthless) parts of its patent portfolio, perhaps that $9 billion loss isn’t quite bad as we thought it was.