electronics and gadgets

Q&A: Lenovo Asia Pacific president on consumer electronic trends

Rappler
Q&A: Lenovo Asia Pacific president on consumer electronic trends

Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

Lenovo's Amar Babu tells us how consumer trends shifted during the pandemic, and how he sees them evolving as more people get vaccinated

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Electronics and computer maker Lenovo recently offered an interview with the brand’s Asia Pacific president, Amar Babu.

We took the chance to ask him about trends in the PC and consumer electronics business, as well as the chip shortage that has affected not just PC users but also the automotive industry.

Read our full email Q&A below.

Lenovo had a very good 2020. What were the kinds of products and services that consumers in the region demanded the most during that year? How different is the product demand landscape in 2021?

The pandemic has led to a massive shift in working and learning habits and impacted the way people interact with technology. Beyond products, our customers’ demand for integrated technology solutions has also increased dramatically, and we expect this trend to continue. Lenovo is on a journey to transform from a devices company to a comprehensive services and solutions provider to meet this demand, which we believe will drive long-term growth for the company.   

In the past, accessories such as a good headset, microphone and laptop stands were seen as luxuries. Today, they are considered necessities in the online office and classroom. Midstream to higher end processors have also seen an increased demand as users leaned on devices to navigate these new online environments, often requiring robust hardware, software, and stable connectivity to work and learn effectively.

Furthermore, services have taken center stage as more people look to collaboration and productivity tools in addition to the gadgets they already have – or plan to have. Customers have also come to recognize the value of responsive after-sales services and pre-packaged solutions in line with their new hybrid lifestyles.  

As cities went into lockdown, consumers spent more online and retail businesses had to rapidly adopt new payment systems, delivery methods and business models. Shoppers are looking for smarter, more convenient and safer experiences, and Lenovo is well-positioned to meet these demands with our Internet-of-Things (IoT) solutions for retail. Lenovo is already providing technology solutions to major retailers around the world and in the Philippines, such as global F&B leader Jollibee Group.

As more people get vaccinated, it’s going to change computing habits again. And in turn, it changes buying patterns too. Do you think desktop and laptop computers will continue to sell well, or will there be a dip as people become more mobile again? What are Lenovo’s consumer predictions in the region as it pertains to the changing COVID situation? 

Laptops and desktops will continue to be in demand, especially among small and medium businesses (SMBs) and enterprise segments. Notebooks are expected to become more popular as companies continue their remote work setup, with some even adapting it for the long term.

A significant growth contributor for PC shipments in Asia Pacific over the past year has been the education segment, as PCs are distributed to support students’ transition to distance learning. With classrooms expected to have a hybrid nature in the future, educators and parents will be exploring ways to ensure learning remains engaging, especially in a remote online setting. 

Our recent Lenovo-Microsoft Education Technology showed opportunities for distance learning to be more effective and beneficial for students and educators across Asia Pacific. Collaborative technologies and Artificial Intelligence will be crucial in driving this, such as Lenovo’s Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings and cloud-based software.

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In 2022, what will the tech consumer look like, and what are Lenovo’s plans to cater to that or adjust to that?

At Lenovo, our vision is to drive smarter technology for all. We are committed to making technology accessible for everyone, everywhere. As the world becomes increasingly technology dependent and people continue to adopt hybrid models and flexible arrangements for work and school, the technology consumer will be anyone who is looking to make their everyday run more smoothly.

To cater to that need, we are committed to challenging convention in our products and services. We recently unveiled new innovative products such as the Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 which won a Red Dot Award for its design, and the expanded range of Lenovo Go purpose-built PC accessories to improve the overall workspace experience. 

The importance of diversity and inclusion has also becoming increasingly clear as the pandemic revealed the vast digital divide across society. At Lenovo, we are committed to incorporating diversity and accessibility into our products, ensuring that they work for everyone – regardless of background or ability. In our latest Environmental, Social and Governance report, we announced that 75% of our products will be vetted by inclusive design experts from our Product Diversity Office by 2025. 

We are also focused on helping organisations and businesses drive intelligent transformation. Our range of services and solutions such as the TruScale Infrastructure Services benefit businesses looking to scale their IT hardware and software framework for a rapidly digitalizing world.

Additionally, education remains a key industry for us, and we are constantly pushing the boundaries to bolster our vertical solutions offerings through smarter tools and collaborative software to enhance learning. 

What can consumers in the Philippines expect from Lenovo in the latter half of the year and 2022? What product categories will remain strong in the time period, and are there other product categories you’re planning to strengthen?

The hybrid lifestyle is a key emerging trend that we are tapping on, and we are working to help our customers embrace this with products and services that address their needs both at home and at work. We have introduced a strong line-up of new products at the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC), specially designed to adapt to the current realities of work, learn, and play, and integrated with more ergonomic technology suited for all-rounded use.

Consumers in the Philippines can look forward to the new IdeaPad 5i Chromebook and IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook 2-in-1, as well as the grab-and-go Lenovo L15 Mobile Monitor. 

We have also huge ambition in the gaming sphere. There are over 43 million gamers in the Philippines, and there is already a lot of excitement around Lenovo Legion products. We’re excited to share what we have in store with Filipino gamers soon. 

How has the gaming category for Lenovo been in recent years? It’s a very competitive space, gaming, so what strategies are Lenovo doing to stand out from the competitors?

Lenovo Legion is the fastest-growing gaming PC brand in Asia Pacific and is one of the most recognizable names in gaming today. Our aim is to become synonymous with gaming in Asia Pacific. We are doing this by focusing on delivering the most powerful and innovative hardware, while offering services that cater to the specific needs of gamers.   

For the Lenovo Legion range, we have seen high demand for powerful PCs like our Legion gaming notebooks that can support multitasking and provide the horsepower needed for both work and play. For example, our Legion 5 Pro laptop has shown performance results of 12 hours at maximum clock speeds with zero throttling in external lab testing scenarios. Aside from laptops, we also have the Legion Phone Duel 2, now in its second iteration which provides a mobile, immersive gaming experience at an attainable price.

Our service-led approach also applies to gaming, with services like Legion Ultimate Support which launched in Philippines in May 2021. It is the only gamer-centric support service among competitors, providing customer support for gaming-related software and hardware issues. 

How has the global chip shortage affected Lenovo’s ability to deliver products here in the Philippines, and how has the company been addressing this?

The shortage of semi-conductors remains a global challenge that impacts the technology industry alongside many others. Despite this hurdle, Lenovo is still able to deliver consistent quarterly and annual results, with its recent record first quarter results reaching a net income margin of 2.8%, the highest in many years.

This was made possible with our operational scale, with strong supplier and partner relationships. These have allowed us to maximize available supply and continue delivering products and alongside our services in solutions in the Philippines and across Asia Pacific. – Rappler.com

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