January 19, 2011

Lenovo Unit To Focus On Tablets, Smartphones, Smart TVs

Chinese computer maker Lenovo said Tuesday it will create a special unit to develop and produce mobile and other Internet-connected devices, as it looks to grab a larger stake in the fast-growing market.

The new venture for Lenovo will be based in Beijing and will be devoted to developing tablets, smartphones and televisions as well as cloud computing systems, Lenovo said in a statement.

There is "tremendous growth potential of the mobile Internet" and the company wants to "capitalize on these opportunities to drive growth," Lenovo chief executive Yang Yuanqing said.

Liu Jun, president of Lenovo's Product Group, will run the new unit. Peter Hortensius, who had run the company's Think product group, is taking Jun's old post.

Hortensius said Friday that the company decided to split tablets, smart phones and other Web-centric mobile and home devices into their own group so there is a clear focus on these electronics at Lenovo's senior level. The products seem different enough from PCs that it is worth focusing on them separately, he said.

Lenovo, the world's No. 4 computer maker, has been pushing to diversify its business into new product lines amid enormous global demand for smartphones and tablet computers.

The company unveiled its first smartphone last year, called LePhone, as it pushes into the smartphone market.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month, Lenovo launched the IdeaPad U1 computer -- a laptop that can be converted into a touch-screen tablet. It also unveiled its new tablet PC LePad.

Lenovo, which acquired IBM's personal computer business in 2005, said its IdeaPad U1 and LePad devices will be available in China by the end of March.

The devices will not be available in the US until Android mobile software becomes available in its tablets.

Given the enormous popularity of Apple Inc.'s iPad, which was released last April, analysts expect tablet sales to jump this year. However, the iPad wasn't the first tablet to hit the market -- Lenovo and others have long offered laptops with swiveling screens that can also function as tablets, for example.

However, because of its sleek design, focus on multimedia and its price tag that is as low as $499, the iPad was the first to win big with consumers. Now, major names in the tech world, including Lenovo, are racing to catch up with Apple's iPad, with high expectations that the market will finally take off this year.

While iPad has won big with consumers, Lenovo is confident that there is room for other tablets, too. Hortensius expects there to be a "lot of winners and losers" in the market this year.

"This is definitely going to be a very important year in tablets," Hortensius told The Associated Press.


On the Net: