Lenovo Plans to ‘Surpass’ Apple and Samsung in Smartphones

| Editorial

Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang's plan for buying Motorola is nothing less than "surpassing" not only fellow Android OEM Samsung, but iPhone maker Apple. In an interview with Fortune held right after Mr. Yang addressed Motorola employees in Chicago, the Chinese executive said he believes his company can pass up both companies "over time."


Good luck with that, sir.

I'm sure it's possible for Lenovo to pass up Samsung, be it in terms of quality, market share, or share of industry profits, but passing up Apple? It ain't gonna happen unless Apple's iPhone empire crumbles.

Android OEMs can duke it out all they want, but no matter how good Lenovo-owned Motorola might eventually be, no Android OEM will be able to knock Apple out of the market, and that's what "surpassing" Apple would mean.

The smartphone market has evolved to a point where Android market share is a zero sum game where the various OEMs are merely jockeying for position. HTC and LG both enjoyed their time in the Android limelight, and right now Samsung is on top, but all of these companies—and Lenotorola, too—are still fighting over the bottom 80-85 percent of the market.

Not only does Apple own the top end of the market, Lenovo has no experience competing at the end. Worse (for Lenovo), the company has even less experience in software than Samsung, and I have long contended that it's software that makes the customer experience and the ecosystem.

If Lenovo thinks it can compete in that area ever, let alone the near future, the company is in for a world of disappointment. The company's acquisition of Motorola will eventually be bad news for HTC, LG, Samsung, ZTE, and even the so-called "Apple of China," Xiaomi, but being a threat to Apple is delusional.

Don't get me wrong. I look forward to seeing the product of Lenovo's investment in the smartphone market, and the company has clearly shown it can be a fierce competitor as a computer OEM, but even there Lenovo hasn't taken share from Apple.


Brian M. Monroe

I agree with you. Mr. Yang is delusional if he think that Lenovo and Apple are in the same league on any product category. Sure, it is a great thing to say to your troops and Wall Street so you are sending a positive message to them. But the reality is that Lenovo is what it is. They make cheep but ok stuff. They are not nor will they ever be an affordable luxury brand or a lifestyle brand in any market globally.


Seen this before. A company wants to “surpass” Apple, to “beat” Apple, to “win”. The trouble is that they always use different metrics to determine who “wins”. CPU clock speed, number of units sold, screen size they pick all sorts of things. Meanwhile, Apple makes computer devices and systems to do what they want by their own rules. Apple isn’t playing in the same pool as these guys. In this case I’d like to see them knock Samsung off. (Though I admit I’m a bit concerned that Lenovo may very well engage in some of the same tactics.) But in the end Apple will be Apple, will be Apple, by their own rules that the rest don’t get. Personally I don’t really care if Apple sells 70% of the devices or 20%, as long as they keep producing the experience and environment. If they don’t, I’ll look elsewhere.


Not holding my breath…



The operative word here is ‘surpass’. As you’ve intimated, and as geoduck has openly stated, success or failure in ‘surpassing’ Apple depends upon what metrics, pre-stated or opportunistic, a competitor or their analysts/apologists choose to base ‘surpass’.

Analysts love to tout unit shipments (and with sleight of hand, compare someone’s shipments to Apple’s sales without acknowledging the external non-validity of the comparison). BBC just did this a few days ago when they covered Apple’s supposed ‘missed’ targets (without specifying whose targets were missed, BTW), and trumpeting how Samsung outperforms Apple on units ‘sold’ - although what they consistently cite is shipments.

All Lenovo have to do is dominate the Chinese market, displace Samsung as the primary major vendor to that market, and it’s job done on ‘surpass’ insofar as units shipped, perhaps even sold, relative to Apple. China alone could put them on top, or certainly near the summit.

As you’ve indicated, competing with Apple for the market that Apple dominates, let alone displacing Apple from that market, is an entirely other matter, and at the moment, Lenovo simply have nothing in their arsenal to perform that feat.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account