Lenovo planning tablet 'offensive' against Apple

Lenovo on August 14 posted a 23 percent jump in quarterly net profit, beating market estimates as the Chinese technology giant logged strong sales of personal computers and smartphones.

CHINA - Lenovo Group Ltd on Friday introduced its latest high-end tablet products, challenging Apple Inc, which is likely to unveil a new iPad next week.

Yang Yuanqing, chairman and chief executive of the Chinese personal computer maker, said the company is ready to take on Apple in developed markets including the United States and Western Europe.

"We are already a leader in the global PC market. Our next step is to go on the offensive in the developed markets that Apple sees as its own turf," Yang said.

Priced at 3,999 yuan (S$832.19) for the high-end model, Lenovo's ultra-thin/18-hour-battery-life Yoga Pro convertible tablet has a 13-inch high-definition touch screen and a projector. The device is clearly targeting business users and filmgoers.

The company hopes the new functions will attract more high-end users, since the global PC market is showing little signs of recovery.

Industry consultancy IDC said on Wednesday that third-quarter worldwide PC shipments totaled 78.5 million units, a year-on-year decline of 1.7 per cent. Although the pace of decline was slower than many analysts had estimated, the market remains gloomy.

Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC, noted that it was one of the weakest third-quarter sales figures ever.

"The third quarter has historically been driven by back-to-school sales and renewed business purchasing, which were weaker than normal this year," said Chou.

Exports are Lenovo's major profit generator. More than 60 per cent of sales revenue came from markets outside the Chinese mainland as of last quarter.

Yang said the company is on track to become the largest PC vendor in Europe, where sales growth hit about 40 per cent in the past few quarters.

"The global PC market is worth $200 billion today, but no one can take it all. When competitors decide to back off because of weakening demand, it will be the perfect time for us to grab market share," Yang said.

The EU is the largest Yoga tablet buyer and customers in the US purchased the largest number of Goya ultrabooks. Hewlett-Packard Co, Dell Inc, Lenovo and Apple are competing for higher profit margins by introducing a wider product spectrum that includes tablets and ultrabooks.

The new Lenovo gadgets will compete head-on with Apple's upcoming next-generation iPad products, because both companies' flagship tablets are targeting winter holiday buyers.

Apple is scheduled to debut the new iPads next Thursday. It remains unclear when the long-awaited tablet will be available for buyers in China. The iPhone 6 series faced a launch delay in the country due to belated regulatory approvals.

Lenovo is also acquiring the Motorola Mobility unit from Google Inc to enhance its portable device group.

Yang said the company may launch a Motorola-branded tablet to penetrate the US market.

"Motorola forged a strong partnership with US telecom carriers, making the brand more competitive in the country compared with non-US brands," he said.

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