Chinese Tech Firm In A Hurry

Monday, March 25th, 2013

You’ve heard of Lenovo, right? Chinese company . . . bought IBM’s Thinkpad laptop division back in 2005 – right, that one. Ah, but you still don’t know the half of it, as reporter Henning Steier of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung found out in Beijing:

Zu Besuch bei Lenovo in Peking: Wie die Chinesen den Smartphone-Markt aufrollen wollen und warum das schwierig wird:


Henning Steier

In the first place, with a 16% worldwide market-share as of QIV 2012 Lenovo is contending head-to-head with Hewlett-Packard for top position as the world’s largest personal computer-seller. Granted, that is equivalent to fighting the last war, considering that PC sales are now in steady retreat (with the new Windows 8 operating system doing little to stem the losses, as Steier mentions).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFar more impressive is what Lenovo intends to do in the area of smartphones, which these days is truly where it’s at commercially. In fact, they already sell them – maybe you’ve never heard of products such as the company’s flagship K900 smartphone (pictured), but that’s because they have mainly been active in the Chinese market (25 million sold in 2012; #2 there behind Samsung). and in other non-Western lands such as Russia, India and Indonesia (soon to include Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria).

They will be coming to the US and European smartphone markets, to be sure, by 2014 at the latest. Get ready, because their ambition is to be at least #3 in smartphones worldwide within 18 months, and they will upping their yearly production of new models from last year’s 42 to do that. There’s even a rumor that they have their sights set on acquiring the ailing Canadian firm RIM, maker of the Blackberry; CEO Yang Yuanqing seemed quite annoyed when reporters at a Beijing press conference raised that possibility.

By the way, Lenovo sells phones using Android, but with three models coming out this year that run on the Windows Phone system. It also relies to a much greater degree than most other smartphone makers on Intel chips to power its devices – it already has a solid relationship with the California-based chipmaker for its computer business.

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