Lenovo, the Chinese PC maker, has forayed into the smartphone space in India with five Android phones priced between Rs6,499 and Rs28,499. Amar Babu, MD, Lenovo India, and Shailendra Katyal, marketing director, spoke to Beryl Menezes about India’s No.1 PC vendor’s PC+ strategy. Excerpts:
Why have you chosen to look beyond your core strength of PCs and venture into the highly competitive smartphone market?
Amar Babu: We are seeing an increasing trend wherein multiple devices are becoming popular for all four screens — PCs, tablets, smartphones and smart TVs. This is a part of the PC+ era. Besides, we are hoping to replicate our China success story in India — both countries where we are also the No.1 PC player. On the global level too, smartphones and tablets contributed to 7% of Lenovo’s $8 billion annual revenues last year.
Can you elaborate on your China smartphone venture?
Shailendra Katyal: In just two years since our entry into China’s smartphone market, we have emerged as the No.2 player with a 14.7% market share. In fact, in the September quarter, our smartphone sales exceeded our PC sales. We sold over 7 million smartphones in the last quarter in China. In India, we are hoping to be the No.1 player in the smartphone market.
India is a very crowded market, with established players jostling for space alongside low-cost Chinese handset vendors. How do you expect to make your mark here?
Amar Babu: We are replicating our PC strategy in a way, in the sense that we are offering a large variety of smartphones with more features like the turbocharged, multi-touch, and 1.4 Ghz quad core processor, all at competitive price points. Besides, we are banking on our strong brand presence in India. Also, while as of now, our phones work on the Android platform, we will be coming out with a Windows phone very soon, as well. We are also looking to bring in a range of CDMA phones, depending on market demand for the same. However, we have no 4G plans as of now.
Besides India, which are the other markets where Lenovo has launched their smartphones?
Shailendra Katyal: We are planning to launch our smartphones in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Russia by the year-end.
Last year, Lenovo forayed into tablets. How is that space doing?
Amar Babu: Our tablets have not done as well as expected in India. However, we are currently in the process of relaunching our entire tablet range with 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities. This will help boost our tablet sales. We are currently in discussions with several Indian service providers to launch these products in India. We will also be launching the ThinkPad with Windows 8 in January 2013.
What about your PC business?
Amar Babu: PCs will continue to be our core focus, where we expect to grow from the current 8-9% India market share to over 13-14% in the next 3-5 years. We expect this growth to be on the back of new products such as convertibles and the latest Windows 8 OS collaboration.