In the beginning, there was Motorola, then Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, the smartphone portion of Motorola (along with other bits) in August 2011, following that Google sold Motorola Mobility (minus most of the other bits) to Lenovo for $3 billion. Now we are hearing that Lenovo will abandon their own Lenovo-branded mobile devices in favour of the Moto brand going forward.
The news comes out of Lenovo’s Q3 2016 earnings announcement with CEO and chairman Yang Yuanqing announcing the move along with a corporate restructure which will see the current head of the Mobile Business Group hand over the reins of the division to the current SVP of Lenovo HR Gina Qiao. Ms Qiao’s background before HR was in marketing and corporate strategy, suggesting that Lenovo is more interested in increasing its declining sales than pushing the envelope on design or engineering.
Lenovo’s mobile sales have seen a flatter than expected trajectory in mainland China, typically the major market, whilst the Moto brand is seeing good traction in the western markets. Overall the Lenovo/ Moto mobile division saw a 12% drop year over year with the majority of that loss seemingly coming from China.
Lenovo is under increased competition from other Chinese smartphone OEMs such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Meizu, OPPO and Vivo to name but a few. With several of these brands growing in local, and international prominence, Lenovo is seemingly having a tough time maintaining sales.
The head of a division says a lot about a company’s strategy. Look at Apple, which has Dan Riccio in charge of mobile hardware: Dan has a background in design and engineering. It’s clear where each company is currently focusing their priorities via these appointments.
It will be interesting if shifting their branding to a largely western focused Moto brand will assist Lenovo in increasing their mobile sales in China. With the Moto Z being a great device and Lenovo being the only Tango partner to date, Lenovo/ Moto definately have the engineering chops to be a great device maker.
Let’s see if they can become a successfully one as well.