Apple, Samsung Alert: Lenovo's 'big plans' for phone domination
Chinese multinational IT firm Lenovo has its sights set on Apple and Samsung’s bread-and-butter market, the smartphones segment.
Not content with being the world’s largest PC company, the firm has made substantial inroads in the tablets market, and now has its eyes set on global smartphones dominance too.
Lenovo S90 Smartphone
The smartphones market, as we know, has of late been a two-horse race, with South Korean Samsung Electronics and US-based Apple Inc. taking turns at the top of the table. Lenovo now wants to spoil that tango.
“We have big plans for smartphones,” Mohammed Hilili, General Manager, Lenovo Gulf, reveals to Emirates 24|7.
“As you know, we have just concluded our acquisition of Motorola phones a quarter ago. With Motorola, we are now No. 3 worldwide in smartphones,” he maintains.
“Our objective, in any category that we’re present in, is to be No. 1,” Hilili adds.
Lenovo P70 Smartphone
On October 30, 2014, Lenovo finalised its purchase of Motorola Mobility from Google. Lenovo hopes that the marriage of its global scale with Motorola’s brand and product portfolio will give it an advantage in the fiercely competitive – and very lucrative – premium smartphones segment.
And the relatively new entrant Lenovo is confident of leadership slot in the smartphones segment. “It may take some time, given the competitiveness in this segment, but this is our primary objective in any category that we are present in – to be No. 1,” affirms Hilili.
S60 Graphite Grey Hero
“Don’t forget that we launched our MEA business only a couple of years ago, and haven’t yet activated all our markets here. This year, we have aggressive plans to expand into more countries in MEA,” he adds.
“Our objective is to meet customer requirements – whatever the customer needs, she should get it from Lenovo,” he notes.
If it is to achieve that No. 1 status, it isn’t just geography that Lenovo will need to conquer. It will need to evolve its brand perception as well as leverage technological innovation to achieve what Apple and Samsung have in several years.
“Our objective is to introduce innovative products – so R&D plays a big role in our portfolio,” commits Hilili.
“The Yoga series in laptops and tablets, and the Vibe series in smartphones are examples,” he says. “We’ll continue doing the same – constantly innovating, anticipating what the customer wants and delivering it,” he promises.
He acknowledges that Lenovo understands that there is no alternative to that. “If we don’t do it, we can’t remain where we are,” he says.
“We need to be ahead all the time. The IT market is very dynamic and competition is pushing us towards this. Even if we are the most innovative today, we need to do so tomorrow as well or we won’t be No. 1,” he adds.
“No one can guarantee it, but we need to continue to try. That’s why we are investing a lot in our social development budget, in engineering, in marketing and so on,” says Hilili.
What about the brand perception, and how does Lenovo plan to counter the hype and marketing buzz generated by its rivals?
“We are investing a lot in marketing too, and our elaborate presence in Gitex every year sends a clear message here,” he says.
“Our objective is to spend our marketing budget smartly. We need to reach the end-user and communicate about our innovative products. We are very conscious about how we spend the money – in the right way,” he notes.
“Ours is the No. 1 brand in the world – and our expectation is to be the No. 1 brand in the region as well. If you look at our range of products, we have convertibles, laptops, tablets, smartphones… we are the only brand to have a full range of products,” says Hilili.
In the PC segment, Lenovo is No. 1 in the world as well as in the region. As we recently heard, it is a close No. 3 in the MEA region’s tablets market, likely to overtake Apple within this quarter.
“We are already No. 1 in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the tablets segment,” Hilili confirms.
Read: Tablet trouble for iPad: Lenovo to snatch Apple’s silver this year
In Q4 2013, Lenovo became the leading PC vendor in the UAE and has since held that spot. “The UAE has always been a strategic market for Lenovo; in fact, the UAE was one of the first few countries where we launched our smartphones and where we are seeing our PC Plus strategy come to fruition.”
Read: Lenovo becomes No. 1 PC vendor in UAE
The firm first launched its smartphone, the Vibe X, in the UAE in December 2013, and in a span of two years, has grown to achieve a joint No. 4 slot in smartphones in the country.
According to the Q4 2014 report by the UAE’s General Authority for Regulating the Telecommunications Sector (TRA), Samsung leads the market with a 24.3 per cent market share, followed by Apple which has an 11.4 per cent share of the market and BlackBerry which still holds a 5 per cent share of the UAE market.
Sony, HTC, and Lenovo all held a 1.2 per cent share each of the market in Q4, 2014, although with the Motorola acquisition now complete, that will have given an inorganic boost to Lenovo, boosting it to a clear No. 4 in the UAE although official numbers are yet to confirm that.
Lenovo, however, maintains that it is already No. 3 in the UAE’s smartphones market. “Lenovo has become the third smartphone vendor in the UAE in less than two years,” Sharay Shams, Smartphone Business Head for Lenovo Gulf, Egypt and Levant, said last week.
The firm recently boosted its range of smartphones locally by introduced the P70 and P90 smartphones in the UAE, besides launching the S60 smartphone at the recently concluded Gitex Shopper Spring 2015 in Dubai.
Lenovo Tech World
Announcing its entry into the big boys’ club, Lenovo said earlier this month that it will host its own global technology event, on the lines of Apple’s WWDC and the Samsung DevCon. Such events are largely held by technology companies to showcase their advances to developers, announce new products, and outline their strategy for the period.
The first Lenovo Tech World will be held in Beijing in May this year, where the firm says it will “demonstrate its vision of computing and emerging technology for the next five years as well as current innovations via exciting new product announcements”.
Lenovo says Tech World will address the company’s “transformation via new business models and strategy for 2015 and beyond”, while also showcasing its product pipeline. Senior company executives are expected to share their perspective on the device and connected ecosystem, from wearables and smartphones to tablets, PCs, servers and software and cloud services.
“Many of the concept products and technology demonstrations will show how the potential of future technologies will change the way people live, work and play,” the firm states.
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