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Sticking to business can help Lenovo smartphones shine in the U.S.

Brad Chacos | May 28, 2013
How can Lenovo shine in a smartphone ecosystem dominated by Samsung and Apple? Easy: By sticking to its core audience of business users.

Lenovo may be the only major PC maker to weather the disastrous first quarter with nary a decline in shipments, but success isn't earned by sitting flat on your heels. While the rest of the industry scrambles to stem the PC bleeding, Lenovo's brass is busy planning an audacious expansion into the U.S. smartphone arena in the next year.

"Smartphones are our new opportunity," Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing told the Wall Street Journal. "As a public company you always have to consider how to grow."

Indeed, while Lenovo's PC sales were flat, its smartphone sales were up a whopping 206 percent year-over-year in last quarter, thanks to the company's strong showing in Asian markets. Now, Lenovo is looking to go west, young man-where it will no doubt slam headfirst into the dominating duo of Apple and Samsung.

Mighty companies have struggled to conquer this particular two-headed beast. HTC, RIM, Motorola, LG, and Nokia have all faltered in the face of iPhones and the Galaxy line. So how can Lenovo succeed where so many have failed?

Simple: By remembering its roots and sticking to business-literally.

Built for business

The ThinkPad's iconic keyboard and pointing stick has been around since the IBM days.

Lenovo's making headway into the consumer market with its IdeaPad line of laptops, but the company's true strength lies in ThinkPad, the business-focused brand Lenovo inherited from IBM. ThinkPads have enormous brand cachet and a sterling reputation with the suit-and-tie crowd.

Lenovo would be crazy not to tap into that, especially given the ho-hum state of business phones today. RIM's star shines dimly even after the launch of the long-delayed BlackBerry 10 lineup. In the BYOD age, users are clamoring for phones they're used to-namely, iPhones or something running the Android operating system-while IT is begging for phones they can manage.

Android manufacturers have been slow to heed the call
Samsung's SAFE (SAmsung For Enterprise) software is attempting to scratch the business itch, and its upcoming Knox component-which will be found first in the Galaxy S4-will add even more enterprise functionality, allowing users to quickly switch between Personal mode and a segregated, highly manageable Work environment with the push of an onscreen button.

The Galaxy S4 will be the first phone to feature Samsung's Knox software.

Even so, Samsung's SAFE push is in its infant stages, and the company's Android phones aren't made to play well with its Windows PCs. Software-wise, warring solutions like Enterproid's Divide platformVMWare's Horizon Mobile, and RIM's own BlackBerry Balance are all scrambling for the attention of sysadmins, but none has established itself as an industry standard.


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