Lenovo targets US, but when?

Updated: 2014-01-09 05:39

By WANG JUN in Las Vegas (China Daily USA)

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Gerry Smith, senior vice-president of Lenovo Group and president of the company's efforts in the Americas, is fine-tuning the "right product portfolio and right carriers" while waiting for the "right timing" to dive into the US mobile market.

Speaking at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Smith said Brazil and Latin America were the number one market for his team to tackle at the moment.

When asked about the US market, Smith talked like a diplomat, saying he couldn't offer any specific numbers or times because the competition may be listening.

"We'll definitely enter into the US market at the right time, with the right products and the right partners," he said.

Smartphones have been a successful business for Lenovo in China, supported by superior government resources and carrier relationships. However, the US is a carrier-oriented market, so Lenovo is investing heavily in carrier relationships, according to Smith.

Smith has gone on a business tour with Yang Yuanqing, president and CEO of Lenovo Group, and Liu Jun, senior vice-president of Lenovo Group and president of Lenovo Business Group, to meet with carriers.

The carriers spoke highly of Lenovo products and were "extremely impressed by our LTE products, not only the technology, but also the breadth of our product line of 60 to 70 smart phone products", Smith said.

"We're not only a PC company, but a PC plus company," he said, mentioning that Lenovo developed products for specific markets.

Smith said Lenovo is targeting the premium and mainstream markets in the US, not the low-end market. "We'll have a balanced full portfolio of premium, middle and value products," he said. Still, he admits that the US is a tough market.

Even though it will be a "lengthy process", Smith believes Lenovo can beat Samsung and become the number one smart product maker in the US by using "the right strategy, right products and right carriers".

"Three to five years ago, Lenovo was not a recognized brand in the US," he said. But through the Do Campaign and a nearly two-year marketing campaign with the National Football League, Lenovo's brand consideration and brand awareness has improved tremendously, he said.

Branding is an on-going project. The partnership with Ashton Kutcher that started late last October is another marketing force built on the previous effort to target "a different group". "Ashton Kutcher is a tech savvy person himself," Smith commented.

In terms of sales, the Yoga tablet, which was unveiled at last year's CES, is selling well at Best Buy. "We're happy about that," he said.

With Lenovo since 2006, Smith described himself as a "passionate, competitive" operational expert. "We achieved continuous growth in the past seven seasons that I've been in my current position… I expect my team to be perfect," he said.