2010/07/05

Lenovo says Apple missing huge opportunities in China

BEIJING, July  5, 2010 (AFP) - The founder of Chinese IT giant Lenovo said in an interview published Monday that Apple is missing huge opportunities in the world's most populous nation because it does not understand mainland consumers.

"We are lucky that Steve Jobs has such a bad temper and doesn't care about China," Lenovo chairman Liu Chuanzhi told the Financial Times.

"If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble."

Lenovo holds about 30 percent share of the Chinese market, which is one of the fastest-growing globally, and is expected to become the world's largest within a year, the newspaper said.

Chinese consumers are as keen on Apple's sleek gadgets as their international peers, but official channels for their sale are extremely limited, the report said.

The company has a flagship store in Beijing and a handful of authorised resellers in the country's largest cities. Apple is due to open a store in Shanghai on Saturday.

The iPhone has been legally available only via China Unicom, the country's second-largest mobile operator, and sales have been sluggish partly because the price tag for the phone is much higher than for those sold on the grey market.

Another reason has been that previous rules required Apple to disable the Wifi function in phones sold on the mainland, making them less attractive to increasingly Internet-savvy consumers in China.

The latest version of the smartphone -- the iPhone 4 -- will be sold in China with Wifi, state media reported previously.

Liu said the LePhone, Lenovo's first signature product in its push into mobile devices, was well placed to compete with the iPhone in China because the device, launched earlier this year, was customised for Chinese users.

"This is a very practical thing. The iPhone has more than 100,000 content providers, and we have no more than 1,000," Liu said.

"But our Chinese customers feel our applications are very convenient to use."