Feeds

Lenovo: It could be YEARS before a US smartphone launch

China may have launched a Mars probe before its phones land Stateside

Website security in corporate America

Chinese hardware giant Lenovo appears to be delaying its plans for a US smartphone launch, after executives at CES last week dampened previous claims from the firm that it would happen in 2014.

CEO Yang Yuanqing told the Wall Street Journal back in May 2013 that he expected the company to launch a smartphone business Stateside “within the year”.

However, similar predictions were noticeably absent from exec media interviews at the Las Vegas show.

Gerry Smith, president of Lenovo in the Americas, told Chinese tech portal Sina that the plan was now to establish the brand in Latin America and Brazil first, before entering the US space in 2-3 years’ time.

Other caveats included “waiting for the right time” and the “right product”, and ramping up investment in branding first.

SVP Liu Jun was similarly cautious, apparently claiming that Lenovo needs to do more in emerging markets before it turns attention to the US.

The firm is now in fourth place globally behind Huawei, Apple and Samsung with a 4.7 per cent share of the smartphone market but is still heavily reliant on its domestic market, according to the latest figures (Q3 2013) from analyst IDC.

It currently sits in second place in China with a share of 11.8 per cent, behind Samsung (19.3 per cent) and just ahead of local rival Coolpad (11.7 per cent), IDC told The Reg last week.

Back in his May 2013 interview, Yang Yuanqing described the mobile market as a “new opportunity” for Lenovo to grow, and with PC sales continuing to slump, it is more important than ever to the firm.

However, IDC senior research manager Melissa Chau told El Reg that carrier partnerships and brand recognition would be major obstacles facing Lenovo in any US push – with the firm facing an extra headache in being forced to differentiate from local rivals Huawei and ZTE.

"If you think about other brands, Huawei has been in the US since forever but it still has very low brand recognition. It’s only really able to sell low-end phones and can’t move up the value chain,” she said. “Lenovo might have to find another angle.”

The commoditisation of the smartphone market means offering low-cost handsets with large screens may not be enough for Lenovo to win the hearts and minds of American consumers.

“It makes it difficult for any firm but there is also a halo of uncertainty around Chinese brands – whether it’s issues around security or build quality,” argued Chau.

“They’re not insurmountable but it’s just likely to take a lot of time.”

Branding and partnership issues aside, there may be more pragmatic, legal reasons for Lenovo's apparent delay, according to Canalys analyst Jessica Kwee.

"Lenovo needs to better prepare itself in terms of IP, which has been a big issue in the US for some vendors," she told The Reg. "For example, HTC & Samsung have come under fire because of patent litigation, which may not be the case in other countries where the patent system is not as well established."

Lenovo’s procrastination contrasts Zuhai-based rival Meizu, which looks set to launch smartphones into the US this year after showcasing several models at CES.

Lenovo couldn't immediately be reached for further comment. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.