updated 09:00 am EST, Tue January 18, 2011
Lenovo makes product group for phones and tablets
Lenovo on Tuesday said it had created a group dedicated to making phones and tablets. The section will be there to provide a 'clear focus' on the category for senior level executives, the company's Think group lead Peter Hortensius said. Most of the products coming out of the group in the US will involve tablets, likely including the LePad and the IdeaPad Slate.
The mobile division will be managed by Lenovo's former overall product group leader, Liu Jun, with Hortensius taking Jun's old position.
While not explicitly stated, the move is an attempt to mimic Apple's success with the iPad and iPhone and establish Lenovo as a more important player in mobile. Company chairman Liu Chuanzhi has been conscious of Apple's head start elsewhere in the market and has said he was thankful Apple wasn't serious about China as it could have cost Lenovo any chance it had before new division existed.
The IdeaPad U1 and matching LePad have been symbolic of Lenovo's inability to compete so far. The basic template was unveiled a year ago but faced repeated delays in getting to market. Lenovo initially tried to use its own custom OS but abandoned this in favor of a customized build of Android. It already sells phones through Android-based devices like the LePhone, but the handset's exclusively Chinese focus has kept it from getting significant world share to date.
Lenovo has sold tablets, but only through its convertible ThinkPad X series and only in very small numbers. Estimates put the entire Windows tablet PC market for 2010 at 1.25 million PCs, a drop from the year before and enough that Apple sold more iPads in less than two months.