Google has sold Motorola Mobility, the smartphone business it only bought in 2012, to Lenovo.

The US search giant sold the company to Chinese company Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

Motorola has lost money for Google since it bought the company for more than $12 billion in 2012. While its Moto X and G smartphones have won some fans, Google has widely been seen as having failed to fully combine the best of its Android mobile OS with Motorola's hardware.

Lenovo is already a top-five smartphone maker globally, and the deal will likely give it more of a foothold in the US and European markets. Combined with Motorola, Lenovo would be the world's third biggest smartphone maker.

But importantly for Google, it will retain control of one key piece of Motorola - most of its patents, which it will lease to Lenovo.

In a statement Google said Motorola would "be better served by Lenovo" in the "super-competitive" smartphone space.

Motorola said:

"Since being acquired by Google in 2012, Motorola has transformed itself, focusing on solving real consumer problems and providing amazing experiences built on a foundation of pure Android. The result has been Moto X, Moto G, and a reinvigorated Droid line. Together, these devices have won over consumers and critics alike and helped re-establish the Motorola brand around the world.

Now, as we set our sights bringing the mobile Internet to the next 100 million people, Lenovo is the perfect partner to help us achieve that goal."

In its own statement, Lenovo said:

"The acquisition of such an iconic brand, innovative product portfolio and incredibly talented global team will immediately make Lenovo a strong global competitor in smartphones. We will immediately have the opportunity to become a strong global player in the fast-growing mobile space."

SEE MORE: Moto X UK Review
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