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Lenovo just laid off a chunk of its Motorola smartphone team

Lenovo just laid off a chunk of its Motorola smartphone team
[Photo: courtesy of Lenovo]

The team behind Lenovo’s most interesting phones is getting downsized. On Friday, Lenovo confirmed layoffs for the Motorola group in Chicago, where the company designs its modular Moto Z smartphones. In a statement to 9to5Google, Lenovo denied that it was axing 50% of the workforce, as the site had suggested, but didn’t provide any further specifics.

The first-generation Moto Z launched in 2016, and allowed users to snap “Moto Mods” such as speakers, projectors, zoom lenses, and batteries onto the back of the phone. Lenovo sold 3 million of those phones in their first year, and kept pushing the idea in 2017 with the Moto Z2 series, which supported all the same Mods along with a slew of new ones. In February, Lenovo said it had sold 5 million Moto Z handsets worldwide, with Mod activations up 64% year-over-year.

Overall, though, Lenovo hasn’t broken even in mobile since acquiring Motorola from Google for $2.9 billion in 2014, and said last year that it would shrink its global workforce by less than 2%. Despite the layoffs, Lenovo says the Moto Z smartphone line “will continue.”

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