What Google's Sale of Motorola Means for 3D Systems Corporation and Project Ara

Here's what 3D Systems' and Google investors should know.

Jan 31, 2014 at 8:04PM

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is making big news with its recently announced sale of its Motorola Mobility unit to China's Lenovo (NASDAQOTH:LNVGY) for $2.9 billion. The price was nearly a cool $10 billion short of the $12.5 billion that Google paid in 2011 for the early cell phone maker and current manufacturer of the Moto X, Moto G, and DROID smartphones.

The headlines have largely been reading something to this effect: "Google sells Motorola, but keeps most of its patent portfolio." If you're following the hot 3-D printing space and, most especially if you're an investor in 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), your first thought upon seeing the headlines was likely the same as mine: BUT what about Project Ara?

Well, 3D Systems' shareholders can rest easy, as Google's not only keeping most of the Motorola patents (which should be useful in helping fend off patent infringement claims related to its Android operating system), it's also keeping Motorola's advanced technology and projects group. This is the group working on Project Ara, and led by former DARPA head, Regina Dugan.

The goal of Project Ara is to create a large-scale 3-D printing manufacturing platform capable of producing customizable open-source modular smartphones. Motorola had been working on customizable smartphones for about a year before it teamed with 3D Systems last November. Naturally, Project Ara's mission entails integrating the 3-D printing of various types of materials into this platform, including conductive materials to produce electronic circuitry. This is a capability 3D Systems doesn't yet possess, but most surely will be working on developing and/or acquiring.

Google's too smart to let the top team it's been assembling at Motorola's advanced technology and projects group get away and lose the opportunity to be involved in what could be a watershed moment for U.S. manufacturing. If successful -- and with Google's megadeep pockets, I'm betting it will be -- Project Ara seems like it has the potential to be a landmark moment in the transitioning of 3-D printing from a technology used primarily to make prototypes and produce small-run production batches to one that will be used in large-scale manufacturing, as well as "micro-manufacturing."

The fact that Google has shed the rest of Motorola means it will have more time and financial resources to focus on this key group and its projects, which should speed things along with Project Ara.

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Beth McKenna has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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