Business / Technology

Lenovo tangoes with Google

By Gao Yuan (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-09 09:13

Lenovo tangoes with Google

A reporter interviews an employee from Lenovo Group Ltd at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the United States. Lenovo executives said the company will abandon the iconic Motorola name for its premium handset division. [Photo/Xinhua]

Tech giants to work together on phones that create 'on-screen 3-D experiences'

Lenovo Group Ltd entered the high-end smartphone market on Friday by introducing its latest three-dimensional technology and letting go a piece of history.

The Beijing-based Lenovo showed off a smartphone that can overlay digital 3-D objects with the real environment on display using cameras, sensors and built-in software at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the United States.

The company said the prototype uses Google Inc's Project Tango technology to create "on-screen 3-D experiences". The first handset that carries the technology is expected to be launched by this summer, according to Lenovo.

Chen Xudong, head of the company's smartphone business, pledged more "pioneering innovations" for future products, saying technology edge and eye-catching designs are ingredients for buyers who are willing to spend more than $500 on a smartphone.

Also on Friday, Lenovo executives said the company will abandon the iconic Motorola name for its premium handset division. Lenovo purchased Motorola Mobility - the first company to produce cellular phones - from Google for $2.9 billion a year ago.

The legendary Android smartphone maker will still carry the familiar M logo but will be simply called Moto.

The Moto division will play a key role in grabbing market shares high-end sector.

Chen said the re-branding move was not mean to end a time-honored brand but to make it stronger.

"Moto devices mainly target segments above 3,000 yuan ($450) while devices bearing Lenovo logo target for the lower-end market."

Other strategies include trimming product types so that the company can focus on the development of flagship products.

Antonio Wang, an analyst from International Data Corp, said Lenovo is trying to add more innovations to its products in a bid to boost its presence in the top-tier market.

"The executives have realized lack of innovation is hurting company's growth and they are solving this problem," he said.

Other Chinese vendors are also moving toward the above-3,000-yuan market even as global giants Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd showed signs of slowdown.

Lei Jun, CEO of China's second-largest smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp, said the company is set to introduce a premium device bearing Qualcomm Inc's latest chipset in February. Sources familiar with the new device, likely to be named Mi 5, said it will be the most expensive smartphone the company has ever launched.

LeTV Holdings Co Ltd, another local vendor, has also released its 2016 flagship using the same Qualcomm chip used in the Mi5. The device is believed to be priced at about 3,500 yuan.

Chinese firms already account for about 80 percent of the country's smartphone market, according to research firm Gartner Inc. But the iPhone and Galaxy series maintained control over the top-tier market in 2015. As profit margins in inexpensive markets become thin, Chinese companies are set to enter the more profitable high-end segment, it said.

China slump may hit Apple shipments

Lackluster iPhone sales in China could crimp global smartphone shipments of United States tech major Apple Inc during the first quarter of this year, research firm International Data Corp said on Friday.

Apple's global smartphone shipments during the January-March period will be 30 percent lower than the 14.5 million units it shipped during the same period a year earlier, according to James Yan, IDC's handset researcher based in Beijing.

"Worse-than-expected iPhone 6S/6S Plus sales were the key reason (for the decline)," Yan said. Apple's latest rollouts only accounted for about 70 percent of the iPhone sales.

The IDC findings echo a Nikkei research earlier this week, saying Apple is cutting production of the iPhone 6S/6S Plus models by about one-third in the starting months of 2016. A number of Apple suppliers have already trimmed revenue estimates.

China was Apple's biggest market by sales in the fiscal year ended in September 2015. The country was responsible for more than a quarter of the whopping $233.7 billion annual net sales, said Apple.

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