Lenovo to launch in the UK ‘with or without Moto’


Discussions with Vodafone and network testing at advanced stages

Lenovo has begun discussions with UK operators and handset distributors as it prepares to bring its smartphones to the UK for the first time.

The Chinese manufacturer agreed to purchase US phonemaker Motorola from Google for £1.7 billion in January but said it will bring its smartphones to the UK regardless of whether the transaction, which is subject to US regulatory approval, goes through.

Lenovo product launch director Andrew Barrow (pictured) said the firm, which has set ambitious targets, is working with Vodafone and other, unspecified operators to ensure its smartphones are compatible with UK networks. The first devices are expected to launch at the IFA trade show in Germany in September.

Operator interest
Lenovo said recently it aims to become the second-biggest smartphone manufacturer globally by 2016. It sold 45.5 million units in 2013, up from 23.7 million the year before, a 92 per cent increase.

“We will launch in the UK with or without Motorola – but the acquisition would speed things up for us,” Barrow said.

“We were already planning to launch in the UK without Motorola but those were longer-term plans. There was interest from operators before we announced we were buying Motorola but it has grown since.

Lengthy process
“The UK is contract driven and operators such as Vodafone have strict requirements regarding how the devices work with its network, so it is a lengthy, nine-month process to get launch-ready.”
Barrow refused to discuss distribution plans for its smartphone rollout at this stage.

The firm has agreements in the UK with Exertis Micro-P, Ingram Micro and Tech Data for laptops, PCs and tablets.

“I am sure they [current distribution partners] will be happy to stock our handsets.” Barrow said.