Lenovo became the third largest smartphone maker when it purchased Motorola yesterday. After he addressed Motorola's employees, Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang told Fortune magazine that he plans to use the newly purchased Motorola brand to beat Apple and Samsung at their own game.
"Our mission is to surpass them, " Yang said when asked if Lenovo hoped to rise above Apple and Samsung to become number one in the global smartphone market. Yang admitted that doing so would take time, but expressed his conviction that it would "definitely" happen.
Although Yang did not confirm that Motorola would keep its brand name on future devices manufactured by Lenovo, he stated that new devices will probably bear Motorola's name with the addition of "by Lenovo" at the end. Yang's plan is to leverage the power and appeal of the Motorola brand name to bring Lenovo to the top of the smartphone market.
In recent years, Lenovo has done the same thing in the PC industry, rising from its position as a minor player to that of a super star. Even though PC sales have continued to decline, Lenovo has remained strong, selling laptops, tablets, desktops and convertibles when no one else has been able to. Lenovo's mix of high-end and low-cost products have made it the go-to company for PC buyers.
Lenovo's push into mobile has been a success, with its Yoga line-up and ThinkPad tablets receiving rave reviews. Can lightning strike twice? Lenovo certainly hopes so and with Motorola behind it, the company stands a very good cahnce of making it big. That is, if it doesn't alter the brilliant marketing strategy Google put in place at Motorola in the past year.
Motorola's recent success is due almost entirely to Google's mad idea that mid-to-high-end devices shouldn't have to be expensive and people shouldn't have to be chained to contracts with locked devices. The wild success of the low-cost Moto G and the highly customizable--but still affordable--Moto X flagship prove that Google has the right idea.
The U.S. smartphone market has more than enough high-end smartphones that cost a fortune to buy unlocked without a contract, but it has almost no mid-range smartphones available unlocked at a decent price. The Moto X and Moto G have filled a gaping hole in the United States and sales have been very good. If Lenovo decides to keep the Google-Motorola strategy in place, it should have no problem eating away at Samsung's hold on the mid-to-low-range smartphone market.
Lenovo will also have to work on some more low-cost devices with Motorola to target developing markets, but it should also contemplate making a few solid high-end Motorola-branded smartphones to chip away at Apple's hold on the luxury smartphone buyer. Given Lenovo's past success catering to both high-brow and low-brow PC and tablet customers, replicating that in the smartphone market shouldn't be too hard.
Lenovo has not elaborated on its plans for market domination or Motorola's role in all this, but if the company plays its cards right, it might just have the winning hand.