In a smartphone world, dominated by Apple and Samsung, it is hard to imagine any company stepping in and putting a dent in Samsung’s Android armor – HTC, LG, Sony, nor even Google’s own Motorola division, has been able to accomplish that feat. However, NKOB (New Kid On the Block), Lenovo, just may be the one company that may be able to make some type of headway.
Lenovo is certainly not a household name when it comes to smartphones, unless you happen to live in China. But in the U.S. they are certainly known in the business enterprise world as the maker of PC’s, servers, and the infamous ThinkPad. They purchased the rights AND laptop name when they bought it from IBM. They have since, transformed into their own product…and they did it very methodically, bought the rights to the name, and did not change a thing about its wonderful keyboard or build quality, except raised it. They know how to do things right without jumping into a field too quickly, and that is exactly how they are handling their transition to adding smartphones to their resume.
The old adage, if you want something done right, then do it yourself, applies to Lenovo’s smartphone philosophy. Engadget recently had a chance to sit down and speak with JD Howard, Vice President of Mobile Internet and Digital Home Business Group (can you imagine putting that name on his office door) to see where Lenovo is headed in the smartphone market. Howard believes that Lenovo will be better off manufacturing their own phones, rather than running to Foxconn. Lenovo’s new $800 million Wuhan facility is just about ready to come online and will increase their yearly production capabilities by 100 million devices per year. He believes that owning their production facility will speed up the process of making changes in design or reduce and resolve any issues faster, and at the same time, reduce their overall costs. Howard said:
A lot of the same skills and talents that you need to run operations for a PC business, we’re applying that to smartphones. When you control your own supply chain … you can actually get to market anywhere between three to six months faster than the competition.
Although Lenovo is using MediaTek processors, Howard says that they also have a “strong relationship” with Intel and Qualcomm, although he definitely has a fondness for Intel:
You need to really pay attention to Intel. I think that someday they will be a major player in this phone ecosystem. On the PC side, they just build the densest, lowest power-consumption, best chips in the industry; they have the fabs; they can build the things. My understanding is they have more engineers working on Android than Google does right now. They are very, very serious. So, you know, keep an eye out.
When asked about the ecosystems, Lenovo seems focused on Android at this point, although they had looked at a Windows based design, but they had set an April 2013 deadline for their decision, so it looks like for now, Android is it…and certainly makes the most sense, since it dominates on a worldwide basis.
With the announcement of the new Vibe X smartphone, do you think Lenovo has a chance in the crowded field of manufacturers? Let us know in the comments or on Google+ what your thought are on Lenovo being your next smartphone purchase.