updated 08:40 am EDT, Mon July 5, 2010
Lenovo says small Apple Chinese footprint a help
Apple's hesitance to fully commit to China is a big help to Lenovo, the latter's chairman Liu Chuanzhi said on Monday. He accused Apple's Steve Jobs of being fickle and willfully ignoring the mainland Chinese market in terms of reaching out to customers. The American company has strong demand for Macs and iPhones, but with just two Chinese retail stores, one iPhone carrier and a small number of third-party dealers, its much smaller footprint gives China-native Lenovo free rein.
"We are lucky that Steve Jobs has such a bad temper and doesn't care about China," Chuanzhi told the FT. "If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble."
The executive was confident that his company's flagship Android phone, the LePhone, was doing well in China as it was much more tailored to the local audience. Although it has far fewer developers -- Chuanzhi estimates 1,000 versus Apple's 100,000 -- more of the content is "convenient" for the Chinese. Lenovo has a much wider retail presence as well.
Apple has also faced a problem with bootleg sales that are less common for Lenovo, as the official prices for a China-approved device are lower than one intercepted than ones in the gray or even black markets.
The Chinese market is predicted to eventually overtake the US as the most important, if not already, and Chuanzhi warned that Apple might have to adapt its launch strategies to cater to China. Lenovo's chairman nonetheless saw Jobs as exceptional and one of the few executives that can dominate leadership where most other companies need several talented executives to thrive.
"My theory is that a manager needs to be the string on which he puts one pearl after another," he noted. "But Jobs himself is a big pearl."