Lenovo in sales push for smartphones and tablets

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 4:28am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 6:23am

Lenovo, the world's largest supplier of personal computers, plans to intensify smartphone and media tablet sales by launching a more aggressive sales blitz across its East Asia geographic market next year.

"We want to get 10 per cent or more share [in the smartphone and tablet businesses] in a very short time in most of the economies in this market," Koh Kong Meng, Lenovo's vice-president and general manager of its East Asia operations, told the South China Morning Post last week.

While Lenovo's tablets are distributed worldwide, its smartphones are rolled out in stages. These were set to launch next year in Singapore, Taiwan, and the rest of the emerging economies in Southeast Asia, Koh said, adding that "Vibe" and "Yoga" would be the "halo brands", respectively, for smartphones and tablets in marketing campaigns.

Lenovo overtook LG Electronics to take the No3 spot in global smartphone sales in the quarter to September. Research firm Gartner estimated the company shipped 12.9 million smartphones last quarter to seize a 5.1 per cent global market share behind industry leader Samsung Electronics and Apple.

Technology research firm IDC, meanwhile, estimated Lenovo shipped 2.3 million tablets last quarter to take a 4.8 per cent global market share behind Apple, Samsung and Asus.

Smartphones and tablets are under Lenovo's mobile internet digital home business, which includes internet-linked "smart" televisions. The business made up 15 per cent of Lenovo's US$9.8 billion in revenue in its financial second quarter to September.

In a Barclays Capital research note, lead author Kirk Yang, the firm's head of technology hardware research for Asia excluding Japan, forecast Lenovo would continue to offset weakness in the personal computer market "with strong smartphone and tablet growth".

Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo's chairman and chief executive, said last month that the firm's goal was to raise the contribution of smartphones and tablets to about 50 per cent of revenue.

Koh said Lenovo aimed to become the smartphone leader in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

"What we've done in emerging economies is target pre-paid subscribers, who make up about 90 per cent of the smartphone users in those markets," Koh said. "We're now building relationships with telecommunications network operators to enable us to penetrate the post-paid smartphone users."

Lenovo was also "growing super-fast" in both lines of Android-based Idea and Windows-based Think tablets in East Asia, Koh said.

In South Korea, for example, it has closed a deal to supply more than 1,200 units of Think tablets to Sejong city's Office of Education for use by primary school students at the start of classes next year. The initiative is part of the Korean government's nationwide "Smart School Project".

"We believe we can make more margins on tablets and smartphones by charging mainstream prices for products with premium quality and advanced specifications," Koh said.

The Barclays report said Lenovo's smart-television business remained small and unprofitable, compared with the already profitable smartphone and tablet operations.