This year’s PAX Australia was a significant one for Lenovo. It was the first PAX Australia where the company brought their dedicated gaming sub-brand Legion to show off, displayed alongside the company's Star Wars: Jedi Challenges AR experience.
Like HP’s OMEN and ASUS’ ROG sub-brands before them, Lenovo found there’s no better way to sell your gaming gear than by putting it directly into the hands of your target market - even if it’s only for a weekend.
We spoke to Lenovo ANZ’s Director of PC & Smart Devices, Consumer & SMB Brandon Lau during the event to talk about the consumer response to Legion and attempt to wring some details from him concerning the company’s 2018 plans.
The Legion range is currently only stocked in retail through Harvey Norman, will you be expanding to JB Hi-Fi anytime soon?
“In terms of channel expansion that's something we'll review in the new year. Currently we're partnered with Harvey Norman, we've been in the market for one year with the Legion portfolio, but we're on our second generation of product and in the new year we'll have some new designs, and we'll evolve the portfolio.”
“Currently we have a portable gaming range of notebooks and desktop with multiple series, VR ready, mainstream and enthusiast so we have a broader portfolio today, and we'll look at expanding that next year.”
Would someone like David Jones be part of that?
“We're still looking at the core gaming market and resellers, which is predominantly established in the Australian market there's a specialty chain for the enthusiast market of those independent gaming shop funds and then there's the mainstream Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi which are key gaming retailers which we'll be focusing in the new year.”
Is the VR-ready branding something that’s resonating with customers?
“It's really just starting to grab now with VR and AR really emerging, being a fast growing category."
“We're actually taking a portfolio approach to VR/AR. We have the augmented reality gaming, Star Wars Jedi Challenge Experience. We also have mixed reality, so we are launching a head mounted display mixed reality headset this November, which is a tethered device connected to your PC, which is primarily designed for gaming also productivity and entertainment consumption.”
How important are events like PAX sort of building that gaming brand?
“This is the first time we've been to PAX and we feel like we've got a really compelling offering with the augmented reality gaming story around Star Wars and also the Legion Brand. So our Legion brand we launched at CES last year, which is our new gaming sub-brand. It's “Legion by Lenovo”. And from that point we're working with gamers globally, and a group of enthusiasts to develop the next wave of products.”
“So I think you'd see a lot more from us next year as we ramp in gaming and with the E-Sports boom we're seeing a slightly different trend, and a different need from the device in terms of design style and what the new gaming market is looking for.”
How important are those audio partnerships with Harman Kardon and Dolby Atmos that you're offering?
“They're very important. We're partnered with JBL so with our Legion gaming range JBL is our audio partner. Very important. We’ve got integrated sub-woofer, multiple speakers, and we made sure we got the right audio processor. [Our] audio/speaker partnership was key for gaming.”
The popularity of eSports is a huge opportunity for you to build up the Legion brand. Are you getting involved with any of the local E-sports organizations and events in Australia?
“Yeah look we've got some influencers, and some gaming groups, and we're really building on that gaming community.”
“We're trying to cater for both ends of the spectrum in terms of product development and our influencers are changing around that as well.”
Do you feel like consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about overclocking? Is that becoming a more requested feature for the mainstream?
“It is in the enthusiast market but we're seeing a lot of adoption in mainstream gaming really around that $2000 price point. “
Looking outside of gaming, anything to share about the next Yoga Book?
“The Yoga Book and our Yoga portfolio is still expanding, we'll have a new Yoga Book product, which will release in the new year. A larger screen size, some new technology on the hi-low keyboard and the next evolution of the Yoga book, so we'll be able to talk about that next year.”
Some analysts have suggested that you might move into the top spot in the PC market within the next two years, why do you think consumers are flocking to Lenovo?
“Look we have a very broad portfolio offering, we have a lot of innovation across the consumer line and the commercial line of products and we play in all the key categories, gaming, premium PC, mainstream, desktop, tablet, and VR/AR.”
“We are looking at leading the new VR/AR category with our portfolio approach so we'll have multiple platforms for commercial, entertainment and gaming and we've got, again, a broad range of products coming in the new emerging technology space, connected home, smart home, and VR and AR.”
Last year at IFA you announced an Alexa-enabled speaker, is that coming here? Is there going to be a Google Home equivalent given that Google Home is here and Alexa's not?
“So we have the tablet smart home assistant, which is the ten inch tablet, which is detachable with a voice controlled and powered by Amazon Alexa. Amazon Alexa in Australia hasn't been announced, once that's announced we can bring that product to market.”
Does that mean you won’t be looking at any building out any Google Assistant-powered smart speakers?
“We will be looking at other voice controlled devices in the new year. Again, [it will be] a multi-platform approach to voice controlled home assistant.”