Lenovo's move into gaming smartphones shouldn't be a surprise

Credit: Lenovo

If you haven't already heard: Lenovo are looking to join the growing gaggle of gaming smartphones.

As per a teaser on Chinese social media network Weibo, it looks like the companý's first gaming-focused smartphone will run on a Snapdragon 865. That's basically all we know about it, other than the fact that it's in development at all and that it will probably sit underneath the OEM's larger Legion Gaming brand.

However, the idea that Lenovo are expanding into the gaming smartphone scene isn't actually that much of a shock.

Let's start with a quick-recap. In Australia, Lenovo don't sell any smarthones under their own name. Instead, you're more likely to find the Lenovo-owned Motorola brand in its place. With that in mind, it's unlikely that this enigmatic Legion-branded smartphone will even be available within Australia when it does arrive.

Now, for other markets like India, that's not the case. As recently as the middle of last year, the company has continued to release devices like the Lenovo Z6 Pro.

The idea that Lenovo's product portfolio range might eventually include a gaming-flavored option is arguably less surprising than the reality that Lenovo are continuing to stick it out in the smartphone market at all. Recent years have seen the company's marketshare eroded in major regions like China.

In 2014, Lenovo commanded a 10% slice of the Chinese smartphone market. By 2016, that slice thinned out to less than 1%. It remains to be seen if cutting-edge products like the new Motorola Razr can reverse this trend.

According to Counterpoint, the Lenovo and Motorola brands together account for approximately 3% of the global smartphone market. Lenovo's most recent earnings reports do not disclose the relative profitability of each brand but instead lump them together under the company's Mobile Division Group (MDG).

As of Q3 2019, Lenovo say the MDG contributes 12% of their revenues. However, despite that profitability, Lenovo hasn't been featured in industry trackers like IDC's Smartphone Market Share Tracker since 2015.

With gaming credited for driving the growth of the wider PC market in recent years, mobile gaming estimated to account for $70 billion in revenues (according to Newzoo) and the enormous popularity of mobile gaming in China, it's little surprise that Lenovo are looking to take advantage of this opportunity. Still, the groundwork for the brand to stage a potential comeback is easy to see.

If Lenovo can manage to do what ASUS, Razer and others haven't been able to do and bring a product to market that succesfully capitalises on those trends, now that would be a surprise.

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Fergus Halliday
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