Google Inc.’s sale of Motorola Mobility holds a clear lesson for Microsoft Corp.’s acquisition of another smartphone maker, Nokia Oyj: Be a hardware or software company, not both.

Lenovo Group Ltd.’s purchase of Motorola’s consumer- hardware business, which Google bought two years ago for $12.4 billion including patents, lets the search company refocus on software and exit competition with other manufacturers of smartphones based on its Android software.

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