Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing this week said his China-based company is aiming to bring its smartphones to the US market within a year. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Yang described the mobile market as the next frontier for Lenovo, which has seen rising PC sales despite general declines worldwide.
"Smartphones are our new opportunity," Yang said, adding that the company sees the market as a source of longer-term growth. "As a public company you always have to consider how to grow."
"We know the importance of marketing, and we will strengthen that."
According to IDC, Lenovo is already the second-biggest smartphone maker in China, with a market share of 11.4 percent — second only to Samsung, which commands 17.4 percent of the market. The company began expanding beyond China last year, introducing its smartphones to emerging markets such as India and Russia, though it has yet to launch a similar campaign in either Europe or the US.
In China, Lenovo's smartphone sales have grown dramatically, with domestic shipments last quarter more than doubling from the previous year. But Yang acknowledges that replicating that kind of success in the US will likely prove a tall task. The company will have to strike deals with providers, for instance, and would consider an acquisition to help facilitate the process.
But perhaps Lenovo's biggest hurdle is its branding. Although the Lenovo brand is well known in China, it has relatively little recognition in the US. According to Yang, the smartphone market "is more like the fashion industry," with high-profile competitors such as Apple and Samsung launching glitzy marketing campaigns on a regular basis. Yang, however, remains confident that his company will adjust its strategy accordingly. "We know the importance of marketing, and we will strengthen that," he said.