Three Brands to Avoid on Cyber Week: Part 3—Motorola

Expect smartphones to be a popular gift this holiday season. A recent survey found two-thirds of   respondents plan to upgrade to a 5G-capable phone this year. On Black Friday, smartphone sales reached $3.6 billion, a 25% increase over last year and 40% of total online spending.

About three-quarters of Americans will only consider a brand they are familiar with when shopping for a smartphone. But consumers would be wise to do a little digging to be sure they know what’s behind the brand-name they are considering.

Which brings us to the last in our cyber week series of brands to avoid this holiday season—Motorola.

Motorola sold the first world’s first cell phones in 1983 and has been in the mobile phone market since. The name conveys an American image—you might remember its “Hello, Moto” slogan—but Motorola Mobility was bought up by China’s Lenovo (yes, that Lenovo) in 2014. Today, Lenovo controls the fourth-largest share of the U.S. smartphone market.

There is little difference between Motorola’s phones and those made by Huawei, the Chinese state-operated company that was placed on the U.S. Entity List because of its ties to the People’s Liberation Army. In fact, Motorola sued Huawei in 2010 for stealing proprietary information, and last year the Financial Times revealed the two companies considered a merger at one time.  

Lenovo’s acquisition of Motorola aligns with China’s strategy of techno-nationalism, which includes buying up top foreign brands and shaping them into Chinese players. Chinese investment in the United States increased 900% between 2009 and 2016.

“China is buying American companies at a breathtaking pace,” said former U.S. Congressman Robert Pittenger. “While some are legitimate business investments, many others are part of a backdoor effort to compromise U.S. national security.”

Cyber Monday spending reached nearly $11 billion, up more than 15% from last year. As consumers continue to spend this holiday season, they should dig a little deeper to ensure the gift under the tree is not a present to the Chinese government.