Origin Story: Where Lenovo’s Mobile Business Came From

There was a moment at some point in the last five years--no one knows when--that Lenovo stopped being a mere PC company and started being a tech company. Sure, we still make beautiful Yoga convertibles and ruthlessly efficient ThinkPad laptops but it’s been the rise of our mobile business (not to mention our acquisition of the IBM x86 Server business) that catapulted us into another category altogether. To use one industry cliche, we are now an “end-to-end solutions provider.”

As we arrive at the 2017 edition of the world’s largest mobile tech conference--and we unveil our glorious new Moto phones--we thought we’d pause and reflect on the Lenovo mobile story as it stands today vs. a few short years ago.

The new Moto G Family

With the rise of mobile technology--the popularity of tablets and the crystallizing of what has to be called The Smartphone Era--the story of technology and the way we use it has morphed, changed, twisted itself into something we couldn’t have imagined even 5 years ago. With that in mind, here are a few fun facts about where we came from in terms of our contribution to the smartphone and tablet markets. (What a difference 5 years makes.)

This K900 smartphone (2013) put us on the global mobile tech map

At the start of 2013, Lenovo sold smartphones in only one country. Today, we’re just about everywhere. The Intel-powered K900 (2013) goes down as our first phone to be sold in multiple countries.

Of course, what really catapulted Lenovo onto the mobile tech world stage was our 2014 acquisition of the legendary Motorola brand. Moto and Lenovo shared a common history of innovation and that spirit has fueled recent developments in our product line (such as Moto Z and Moto Mods).

Fast forward to the present day and Lenovo-branded phones now have a strong presence globally, including India, which is the world’s third-largest smartphone market. In the most recent quarter, Lenovo grabbed 9.9 percent of India’s smartphone market. As you know, everything moves quickly in mobile tech but, as of this moment anyway, here's a snapshot of the Lenovo smartphone portfolio.

OK, enough about phones--let's talk tablets. Few people remember that one of the original 1992 ThinkPads was actually a tablet but let's limit our conversation here to what we can rightly call The Modern Tablet Era. Lenovo got in the game with a trio of Android tablets in mid-2011. That seems like a long time ago now.


One could argue that, in the 5-6 years since then, tablet design has stalled out a bit across the industry. Not so for us: our restless engineers have come up with a number of wild (and useful--always useful) design approaches that have increased our productivity and our entertainment threshold while expanding the notion of what a tablet can deliver. Anyone who has had the chance to sketch on a Yoga Book or watch a movie via the projector on a Yoga Tablet knows what we're talking about.

So there you have it. That's the state of Lenovo mobile in 2017. We've come far in a short time but we still see ourselves as an upstart and a challenger to the industry. Check back with us in another 5 years and we can all marvel at the rate of change and laugh at ourselves together.


Gavin O'Hara is Lenovo's Global Social Media Publisher.