Technology People

Lenovo's Chinese Tag Doesn't Hinder India Ops: Amar Babu, MD, Lenovo India

Lenovo, a China-based computer manufacturer, has recently entered the Indian Tablet market. The company launched two new Tablets and unveiled a third one on October 11. At the launch, interacted with R.K. Amar Babu, managing director of Lenovo India, and in an exclusive interview, he talked about his company, how it has managed to break through the Chinese tag and India's role in driving its worldwide growth. He also shared his views on the purpose and scope of Tablets in today's world.

Does the Chinese tag impede Lenovo's India ops? Have you been able to create a suitable identity here?

That is something you will have to tell us. If we have grown 18 times in this market, I am sure we are doing something right and have managed to break through that tag. Of course, we still face the challenge of being stereotyped because of people's perception of Chinese products. But we are continuously working towards establishing our brand and building trust. We have been able to move past the stereotype and we have convinced our consumers that Lenovo develops good technology products that fulfil what is promised. And you get it at affordable and competitive pricing.

The fact that we have been able to double our share from under 6 per cent in Q2 2009 to 10.8 per cent within a two-year span shows that consumers have accepted us. Word of mouth has also helped us because once people use our products, they come back to us, time and again. Plus, we are really fortunate to have excellent channel partners with whom we have been working as partners in profit.

What's more, they would have agreed to sell Lenovo products if they were not convinced about our quality. So I think over a period of time, we have been able to build loyalty and confidence and that has helped us in a big way.

What role does India play in Lenovo's plans to overtake Dell in the PC business?

India is part of the emerging market structures and Lenovo is No. 1 across the emerging markets. Also, the company's global growth in the past few years has been partially triggered by emerging markets like China, Russia and India. Therefore, India clearly plays a key role in terms of Lenovo's worldwide growth.

Additionally, our strategy to protect and attack (protect our enterprise and grow our business) is working effectively at a global level. We have experienced success all over the world and India plays a key role in driving that success.

What are your investment and expansion plans?

We are primarily investing in our products, brand and retail business. Currently, we have 700 stores and have presence in 450 Indian towns. We plan to increase the number of stores to 1000 by the end of this year and we want to get to the point where we have a presence in every reasonable PC market across the country.

What is your take on Tablet? Is it a necessity or just an accessory?

It actually depends on the usage. For some people, Tablets are an integral part of their lives. Basically, they build their life around the device. But we have to understand that the Tablet in its current form is simply a device for content consumption. Of course, there may be other unique uses exclusively. For instance, I have seen a house that is solely operated by a Tablet device. But such cases are very rare.

As of now, Tablets are basically used for gaming, e-mailing, surfing or online shopping. But when it comes to serious technology users who develop content on a regular basis (like games, videos or blogs), they have to opt for PCs or laptops because Tablets don't support such activities. So I don't think that the Tablet is a necessity right now, but I do feel that it will add to the convenience of its users and the adoption of Tablets will surely increase with time.

And that is one of the reasons we are launching a complete range of Tablets, making investments in this segment and creating an entire vertical. We believe that as a category, Tablet has potential and it is here to stay. But I don't think that the Tablet can actually replace the laptop.

Then what's the exact role of Tablet in our life?

I personally believe that PCs, laptops and Tablets all play a role in our life. Tablets are extremely convenient in terms of portability "they are sleek and lightweight. Also, you can't use a PC on the go and laptops, too, are not as convenient as Tablets. You can't use a laptop while lying down but that's quite possible if you are using a Tablet.

Also, the different screen sizes offered by companies ensure that there is something for everyone. Tablets have been in the market for a long time now but when they were first launched, people simply wondered why anyone would actually need them in the first place. But more than 3 million people have already bought them and it essentially shows that there is a demand for these devices.

Will you stick to the Android OS for your Tablets?

There's no hard and fast rule that we will only use the Android OS for our Tablets. Even now, we are experimenting with multiple operating systems and working closely with different people. It basically depends on customer needs and preference. For example, if there is more demand for the Windows OS instead of the Android OS, we will focus on that operating system.

What is your marketing strategy for Tablets in India?

We are going to use the traditional channels – our exclusive retail stores and also multi-brand retails like Croma. Additionally, we will go for tactical promotion of the brand via advertisements (TV, print, etc.). We are also working with telecom partners – so that we can use telecom channels which are fast emerging as a popular communication medium.