After having dominated the PC business for a long time, Lenovo India entered the smartphone space and has managed to create an impact in the competitive smartphone market. Having studied the consumers and the need gaps in the market, Lenovo was in a comfortable position to innovate and the wait-and-watch approach seems to have paid off for the brand. With a wide range of products ranging from Rs 4000 to Rs 40000, and a 100 per cent growth every quarter, it seems to be basking in this newfound success. Rashi Bisaria spoke to Sudhin Mathur, Director, Smartphones, Lenovo India to understand Lenovo’s strategy in the smartphone market.
What were the sales like for Lenovo smart phones in 2013?
2013 has been a great year for Lenovo smartphones and we have certainly created a significant impact in this competitive market. Our focus on constant innovation and improved design that meets the consumer aspirations has helped us achieve 100 per cent growth quarter on quarter. We expect our growth trajectory to continue because of our extended product portfolio.
What is the gap in the smartphone market that Lenovo is looking to fill, considering it’s a late entrant in this category?
Being a global leader in PC business, we have certainly used our experience in gauging the changing consumer smartphone preferences. Today, consumers are looking for smartphones with a good battery life and innovative design at an affordable price point. We have paid a great deal of attention to these factors and that has helped us reach out to wide customer base.
Globally, we achieved number four position in a short time span of two years and hence being a new entrant hasn’t been a hindrance for our growth. In fact, we are at the right time as developing countries like India are just in the inflexion point. We are confident of creating a niche for ourselves as we have a wide range of product portfolio and a robust distribution channel covering the lengths and breaths of the country.
Which has been the highest selling Lenovo smartphone and what makes it special?
The Lenovo P780 is one our highest selling smartphone and it stands out strongly against its competitors. It is equipped with a 4000mAh battery that provides talk time of up to 43 hours and Lenovo Power Manager app that lets users use their phones for a longer time and run more applications side by side. The P780 also features a smart and innovative USB On-The-Go technique that lets you charge other phones by connecting it to the P780.
Lenovo dominated the market in the PC segment. Why did it decide to enter the smartphone space?
Being a global leader in the PC market, we know the device manufacturing space better than anyone. Today, we are number 1 in PCs, number 2 in the PC + tablet category, number 3 in Smart Connected Devices (PCs, tablets and smartphones) globally. Our consistent performance in the core PC business and the vast experience dealing with electronic manufacturing has given us the foundation to invest and grow in new areas.
How is Lenovo positioning itself in the smartphone market to break through the clutter of phones available?
We entered the Indian market with a wide range of affordable smartphones after analysing the changing dynamics of the smartphone market and the consumer mindset. Today, we have a wide range of products from Rs 4000 to Rs 40000 addressing the different aspirations of the consumers across urban and rural markets.
Our phone offerings go beyond different hardware configurations to innovative applications as well. Our proprietary ‘DOit app suite’ has seen notable acceptance from consumers. The DOit suite helps consumers move data between two Lenovo phones without any network requirements, provides complete security solution including anti-theft as well as ability to backup phone contacts, messages and call logs on the cloud.
From a brand perspective, we have recently signed on Ranbir Kapoor as the brand ambassador. Ranbir will endorse Lenovo's range of smartphones and will feature in various television and online commercials for the brand in India.
Lenovo has seen significant success in the Indian market due to constant product innovation, providing greater choices and enhanced value. With smartphones, we will continue to focus on these basics. Our ultimate goal here is to differentiate ourselves and strengthen our position in the Indian smartphone market through our innovative products. Also, from the reach perspective our focus is to ensure that the products are easily available pan-India through large and small retail format outlets, operator channels, IT channel partners and online channel partners.
Can you elaborate on the aggressive growth strategy being adopted by Lenovo for smartphones in India?
In the past couple of years we have invested aggressively in the smartphone segment. A strong portfolio of 14 smartphones to meet the specific requirement of our varied consumers, brand ambassador to enhance brand visibility, distribution tie-ups with two national distributors and local channel partners and presence in over 5000 outlets in over 120 towns has helped us reach out to a wider audience. Going forward we will continue to enhance our marketing initiatives to ensure that we have stronger brand recall among the Indian consumers.
What was the idea behind acquiring Motorola? How will it help Lenovo?
Our recent acquisition of the Motorola Mobility is a logical step towards extending the company’s successful “PC Plus” strategy. We have identified many synergies between Motorola’s business and Lenovo’s existing business, and we are confident that we will be able to quickly consolidate. Also, Lenovo is not only acquiring scale and access to important markets, but also incredible talents, experience and expertise that will help us drive innovation, build strong relationships with customers and partners, and significantly grow both of these crucial businesses.