Apple and its prime rival in that slice of the business, Samsung, take the vast bulk of all smartphone profits; analysts don't see Lenovo straying into that space, not with the acquisition of Motorola, which Google was pushing into the lower-priced tiers even before it dumped the unit.
Nguyen did not view Google's sale as aimed at reining in Samsung, which accounts for the biggest part of all Android-powered smartphone sales. And Bajarin rejected the idea that Lenovo-plus-Motorola would significantly affect Samsung.
"This move seems to be mostly U.S.-based and Samsung is already having some issues in this market versus others," said Bajarin. "But it has a strong brand and is doing well as a number 2 in the U.S." Apple is the largest smartphone maker as far as U.S. sales are concerned.
But Lenovo's acquisition will spark increased competition in the U.S., Bajarin predicted.
Sameer Singh, an independent analyst who covers mobile technology on his Tech-Thoughts website, echoed that, but expanded the field of play to also include Europe, where Android dominates, Apple's iOS is No. 2, and Microsoft's Windows Phone made some headway in 2013.
"Once [Lenovo's] pipeline is ready, I expect competition in the U.S. and European markets to intensify," said Singh in an email. "Apple and Samsung's Q4 results have already shown that they're losing potential 'low-end' buyers within the premium smartphone space. Recent pricing changes at T-Mobile and AT&T also had an impact there. This deal will only accelerate that trend."
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