Ever since Lenovo announced its intention to acquire Motorola earlier this year, speculation as to exactly what the world’s top PC manufacturer will do with what’s arguably the world’s oldest mobile phone brand has been rife.
There’s no question that the buyout was a good move for the Chinese company, mainly because as a part of the deal, it gets to license the full patent portfolio that Google acquired with Motorola but also because Lenovo now has the opportunity to do great things with the Motorola name in parts of the world where Lenovo isn’t at all associated with smartphones.
But is Lenovo’s strategy really as simple as the speculation suggests, namely to re-badge its own smartphones (that, quite frankly, are really really good from what we’ve seen so far) as Motorola devices in regions like North America?
In a Q&A session held this morning in Beijing, China, Chen Xudong, senior vice president of Lenovo Group and president for Lenovo China region and the Asia Pacific emerging markets region said that the strategy Lenovo is likely to follow with the Motorola brand is very similar to the one it followed when it acquired the ‘Think’ brand of notebooks from IBM all those years ago.
Chen explained that when his company acquired the IBM personal computer business and ThinkPad brand, it evaluated the strength of the respective brands in each country it had operations in. In markets where Lenovo and Think existed in an equally strong capacity, like China, it pursued a dual brand strategy and continues to do so today.
By contrast, in regions where ‘Think’ was stronger, he says, Lenovo continued to protect the brand, but also linked the Lenovo brand to ‘Think’ to elevate its profile over time.
“This is a very similar strategy to the one we will pursue with Motorola,” he said.
In markets like the US and South Africa, where Motorola has far more brand awareness than Lenovo does in the smartphone space, Lenovo will launch new products as Lenovo branded and continue to bring innovative products to market as Motorola, pursuing a dual brand strategy, if you will. Quite importantly though, its strategy will be to make strong efforts to link the Lenovo brand to Motorola and in doing so, elevate the awareness for Lenovo as a smartphone brand.
So, here’s my opinion on things. We expect the Motorola brand to undergo some rejuvenation in South Africa in late August (the time frame Lenovo expects the acquisition to be finalised by). That is of course assuming that South Africa is one of the countries slated to begin receiving Lenovo smartphones in the near term which makes semse.
And while that is of course just speculation at this point, it’s a question we’re desperately looking to get an answer for during our time with Lenovo and as soon as we do you’ll be the first to know.