It really was only a matter of time. Lenovo is planning to extend its smartphone sales reach to the U.S. and other mature markets, according to a top executive quoted in a Bloomberg report.

DH Kass, Senior Contributing Blogger

January 15, 2014

3 Min Read
Lenovo39s smartphones are headed to the US says top company exec Liu Jun
Lenovo's smartphones are headed to the U.S., says top company exec Liu Jun.

It really was only a matter of time. Lenovo is planning to extend its smartphone sales reach to the United States and other mature markets, according to a top executive quoted in a Bloomberg report.

“For smartphones, we have covered all the major emerging markets, like Russia, India, Indonesia—I think we are going to launch in Brazil in this quarter,” said Liu Jun, Lenovo senior vice president and Mobile Business Group president. “We have covered half the world, and we hope we can launch in mature markets this year.”

The Chinese manufacturer’s third-place position in worldwide smartphone shipments (according to Gartner’s Q3 2013 figures) has been built largely on in-country sales but the vendor has never hid its plans to extend its geographic reach, particularly to the United States.

“The U.S. is the most important market in the smartphone space,” Liu said. “From day one, when we targeted the smartphone business, we thought that to be a global player, we must win in the U.S. But to be honest, we are very cautious in this market because we must do the right things the first time. We cannot keep trying and trying.”

Can Lenovo challenge Apple (AAPL) and Samsung in the crowded U.S. smartphone market? Can it bring the same fervor to smartphones as it’s delivered to PCs? According to the Bloomberg report, Liu thinks so.

“We assign the best teams to the mobile products,” he said. “We are ready.”

Are Stores the Answer?

It may take more than top design work to make a dent in the United States and other mature markets. When Lenovo does bring its smartphones to the United States, will it be enough for the vendor to sell the devices online and at major retailers, or might the company want more control over the sales process as does Apple with its 400 retail stores worldwide?

With 95 percent of its smartphone sales in China, Lenovo has no presence in the U.S. market. Still, the vendor has come out of nowhere in the smartphone market to position itself as a formidable competitor in the middle of the pack among Huawei, LG and ZTE, based almost exclusively on sales in China.

But to expand its geographic footprint, Lenovo not only will have to broaden its relationships with carriers but also must find productive channels to sell the devices.

And, maybe it will need to build its own sales channel. In China, Lenovo has relied on thousands of channel partners to sell its products and last year began opening company-owned stores locally to challenge Samsung’s dominance in the smartphone market. Lenovo also is franchising stores in China—providing funding, signs, furniture and design to ensure franchises carry the look and feel of company-owned outlets—with plans to balloon the number of franchises to 300 in the next three years.

To be successful in the United States, it might take Lenovo slotting stores right next to Apple and Microsoft (MSFT) stores. Is Lenovo up for the challenge? Looks like we may find out pretty soon.

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About the Author(s)

DH Kass

Senior Contributing Blogger, The VAR Guy

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