Lenovo releases Android phone, uncorks smartphone ambitions

Lenovo said it will begin selling its first smartphone, dubbed LePhone, in China next month--and the computer maker outlined its plans to push deeper into phones and mobile Internet services in general.

The company first unveiled the device at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, and will release it next month running on the WCDMA standard (which is used by China Unicom). Lenovo said it is also working on versions of the phone for China's other 3G standards, CDMA2000 and TD-SCDMA.

The smartphone runs a tweaked version of Android 2.1 and includes support for push email and other content services. The Chinese search engine Baidu replaces Google as the phone's primary search engine. The LePhone has a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 3.7-inch AMOLED screen and dual 3-megapixel cameras.

Lenovo plans on "winning in China first" before selling the phone in other markets, company COO Rory Read said, according to the Financial Times. Read said Lenovo plans to score between 10 percent and 20 percent of its revenue from mobile Internet services in five years. Interestingly, that estimate sharply contrasts with what Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said in March; in an interview with the Associated Press, the Lenovo chief said the company expects mobile Internet products to be 70 percent to 80 percent of sales within three to five years.

Lenovo's Read said the company will have a leg up on Research In Motion's BlackBerry products in the Chinese market, and will aim its phones at consumers and enterprise users alike. He said Lenovo aims to sell "millions" of its phones over the next five years and "tens of millions" beyond that. However, the company will have to contend with other Android phones as well as Apple, which muscled into the Chinese market last fall when China Unicom began selling the iPhone.

Lenovo is one of a number of new entrants to the smartphone market. Dell, Garmin and others also recently jumped into the game in hopes of cashing in on what many expect will be dramatic, global growth in smartphones.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this FT article
- see this GigaOM post
- see this Phandroid post

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