Lenovo catching up new retail trend with launch of a cashier-less store

Lenovo is the latest entrant to the cashier-less convenience store frenzy, following Alibaba, JD, and Original Link

Microsoft a growing contender in PC hardware

Microsoft is now the fifth biggest PC manufacturer in the US, according to new data from Gartner. Original Link

Briefing: Lenovo becomes China’s hottest tech stock

The PC maker used to be the world’s worst-performing technology stock just five months ago. Original Link

Lenovo is suddenly China’s hottest tech stock

What was the world’s worst technology stock only months ago has become China’s hottest, staging a defiant comeback since it was booted off Hong Kong’s benchmark gauge. Original Link

Episode 167: Apple’s WWDC news and connected musicians

Kevin kicks off the show with his thoughts on Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference news, including Siri’s new IFTTT-like abilities. We continue with Alexa finding a home on computers and a discussion of the OVAL sensor that’s hoping to crowdfund a second-generation product. I’m disappointed that Lenovo’s new Google Assistant screen-enabled device won’t ship until September, but super excited about Microsoft’s new IoT offerings, including spatial intelligence. There’s yet another industrial IoT platform for cellular low power wide area networks, this time from Sierra Wireless. Finally, Kevin and I share our latest buys, an Aware Glow air quality monitor for me, and an app that puts Alexa on the Apple Watch for Kevin.

My Awair plugged into my bedroom wall.

Our guest this week is Anya Trybala, a musician and creator of SynthBabes, a group that supports female electronic music artists. Trybala talks about how connectivity and technology could change the way artists perform and introduces a concept for VR called The Elevator. For a look at her work, check out this video. To hear her thoughts on how to use AR/VR and the blockchain for changing music, listen to the interview.

Hosts: Stacey Hgginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Anya Trybala of SynthBabes
Sponsors: Praetorian and Bosch

    • Apple still isn’t changing the game in the smart home
    • Microsoft continues making its IoT services better
    • Check out Alexa on an Apple Watch
    • Building a connected concert experience
    • Are you ready for drone microphones?

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Tablet sales plunge, while PCs show healthy growth

Shipments of personal computing devices (PCDs) — desktops, notebooks, workstations and tablets — in Africa and the Middle East declined by 5.3% year on year in the first quarter of 2018, according to new research from International Data Corp.

IDC’s quarterly PCD tracker shows only 5.7m units were shipped in the region in the three-month period, the lowest quarterly volume recorded in more than six years. However, the poor numbers are mainly due to plunging demand for tablet computers — PC shipments recorded healthy year-on-year growth.

“The overall market decline stemmed from falling demand for tablets,” said IDC regional senior research manager for client devices Fouad Charakla in a statement. “These devices are falling out of favour across the region, with the biggest year-on-year decline seen in Kenya, where a massive delivery for the education section sector that took place in the first quarter of 2017 was not repeated.”

South Africa’s overall PCD market performed better than expected, with shipments into the country growing year on year. This was spurred by the country’s improved economic situation and the strengthening of the local currency against the US dollar, making it cheaper for PCs to be imported, said Charakla. February’s announcement of a 1% increase in the VAT rate encouraged market players to ramp up their shipments into the country ahead of its implementation on 1 April.

Another area of growth is gaming PCs, which continue to act as a driver for the overall region’s PCD market. “The higher-than-average price points and profit margins associated with gaming PCs is maintaining strong interest among market players in these devices,” said Charakla.

In the PC market, all the top five vendors maintained their respective positions in terms of market share when compared to the corresponding quarter of 2017. HP achieved significant growth in terms of market share to maintain its lead by a significant margin (31.5% compared to 26.9% a year ago).

Lenovo was second at 19.3%, followed by Dell (14.9%) and Asus (8.2%).

In tablets, Samsung remained the clear leader and gained market share (growing from 19% a year ago to 21.2%). Lenovo (10.6%) climbed to second position in the market, overtaking both Apple (10.3%) and Huawei (10.2%).  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

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Lenovo CEO admits phone business “has sunk to the bottom”

Lenovo CEO admits phone business “has sunk to the bottom” · TechNode

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Lenovo founder in public backlash for ‘unpatriotic 5G standards vote’

Lenovo founder in public backlash for ‘unpatriotic 5G standards vote’ · TechNode

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Lenovo’s troubles may be far from over

In four years, Lenovo Group went from would-be Apple challenger to an also-ran in smartphones and data centre servers. Now it’s got a comeback plan, but some investors don’t buy it.

China’s erstwhile tech darling, which lost its perch atop the PC market to HP in 2017, has shed two-thirds of its value since hitting a 15-year high in 2015. At a two-year earnings multiple of about 10 times, its stock is cheapest among the world’s largest computer makers. Yet all seven analysts ranked best by Bloomberg based on one-year returns urge investors to sell. Their average target puts Lenovo 13% below Tuesday’s close.

From money-haemorrhaging businesses to resurgent competition for its cash-cow PC division and a revolving-door executive team, the company that once aspired to Apple and Samsung’s heights seems to have lost its way. CEO Yang Yuanqing’s failed repeatedly to deliver on turnaround deadlines and hasn’t fully articulated a strategy to revive ailing mobile and data centre arms — even as local rivals gun for its bread-and-butter Chinese customer base. The company’s even resorted to selling office buildings to prop up the bottom line.

“I just don’t see signs of change,” said Qian Kai, an analyst with CICC who’s covered Lenovo for five years and the third-ranked analyst of 30 in Bloomberg’s Absolute Return Rankings. He lowered his target price to HK$2.60 in February. “Lenovo’s been caught in the middle of a very awkward situation where it can neither turn the tables on its home turf nor expand quickly enough in overseas markets.”

It’s a far cry from the days when Lenovo was at the top of its game. Yang took the stage at an 18 000-seat Beijing arena one frigid winter’s evening in 2014 to surprise euphoric employees with news Lenovo had agreed to take over IBM’s commodity server business for more than US$2bn. That same year, it sealed a deal to buy Motorola Mobility from Google, becoming the world’s number three smartphone label.

That was then. The Moto line has tumbled out of the top ranks, unable to expand its footprint in the US and pummelled by fast-moving rivals in Asia from Oppo to Xiaomi. Liu Chuanzhi, an industry trailblazer who transformed Lenovo into one of China’s most recognizable brands, fell on his sword during this year’s address.

“How many mistakes have we made? How many mistakes have I myself made?” Liu said in February. “Without question, today’s Lenovo Group faces severe and acute challenges. The challenge is multi-dimensional and uncertain. It’s an age when innovations in technology and business model are powerful enough to overturn an industry and even social customs.”

New avenues

Lenovo’s now overhauling its sales channel. It’s re-enlisted Liu Jun — the architect of the Motorola deal — to reinvigorate China via new avenues such as e-commerce.

“Turning around the business is still our goal, but we probably need more quarters to deliver that result,” Yang said in an interview in February. “We are transitioning in emerging markets from Lenovo brand to Motorola brand, it hasn’t gone very well. We need to clear inventory and rebuild the brand.”

It also missed out on “its best shot” to grow its server business, Qian said. At the time the IBM deal was unveiled, Chinese customers were starting to eschew IBM, Oracle and EMC in favour of local names. Many ended up with Huawei or Inspur because Lenovo took eight months to close its acquisition.

Lately, the company’s shown signs of life. It’s expected to return to (meagre) revenue growth this fiscal year after two successive annual declines. But at least one fund manager warns against getting into a PC sector that remains sluggish at best.

“The industry is unlikely to see hyper-growth in the short run,” said Zhang Haidong, a fund manager with Jinkuang Investment Management who doesn’t own stock in Lenovo. Even “the smartphone business may not see its next inflection point until 2019”.

Alexander Medd, an analyst with Bucephalus Research who’s been one of Lenovo’s harshest critics, argues the company needs cool products. But it may be too late.

“Tech brands do not come back,” he said.  — (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP

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New Google headset aims to take VR mainstream

Virtual reality devices are still mostly purchased by a niche market: gamers. Google wants to change that. The Alphabet unit released a new VR headset with Lenovo Group on Tuesday, along with specialised cameras to support the technology.

Google showed off the new headset, dubbed Mirage Solo, at the CES consumer electronics conference in Las Vegas. It has features from high-end VR devices, like displays that don’t blur as the wearer moves around, and doesn’t need to be tethered to a PC. Those shortcomings have been a major hurdle to broader VR adoption.

Google’s new cameras are meant to address another handicap. The devices, called VR180, are built to encourage people to capture 360-degree footage that can be viewed inside VR devices.

So far, the media library for VR is relatively thin, due to the high costs of shooting and creating content.

“Watching VR180 gives such a strong sense of presence that it’s almost like having a time machine that lets you be there all over again,” Clay Bavor, a Google vice president, wrote in a blog post.

Both the cameras and the new headset are built to feature Google services, such as YouTube, its digital maps and app store.

In VR, Google is competing with Facebook to become the go-to media provider.

Broader use of VR headsets, beyond gaming, won’t come until 2021, according to an analysis from Bloomberg Intelligence. Many analysts expect the market for augmented reality devices — which overlay digital images on the physical world — to eventually outpace VR.

Google and Lenovo said the new device will arrive during the second quarter of 2018. Bavor said it will cost less than US$400.  — Reported by Mark Bergen, (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP

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The Best in Tech: Ep 3 – ‘The ThinkPad at 25’

The original IBM ThinkPad

In this episode, Regardt van der Berg chats to Thibault Dousson, GM of Lenovo South Africa, about technology, the PC landscape in South Africa and the rich 25-year history of the ThinkPad, a brand it acquired in 2004 when it bought IBM’s PC business.

Since then, Lenovo has had to endure several market challenges, including the rise of Apple’s iPad devices and the impact this had on the notebook business.

With clever innovation, such as the company’s Yoga range of notebooks — which fold into a tablet — and high-end performers such as the X1 Carbon range, Lenovo has manged to keep its tech relevant to casual and business users. As Dousson points out in the interview, Lenovo is also still a major player in corporate environments and server rooms, too.

We also discuss Dousson’s approach to new technology and what he thinks about a digitally connected world. The answer might surprise you.

Thibault Dousson

How to subscribe to TechCentral’s podcasts

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The TechCentral Podcast RSS feed is available via, while there are separate feeds for weekly TalkCentral podcast and The Best in Tech. If you’d like all three podcasts in one RSS feed, that’s here.

Use the RSS feeds to subscribe to either podcast (or both podcasts) in your favourite reader (we recommend Pocket Casts for Android, iOS and Windows Phone — look for “TechCentral” in its search engine to find both shows).

We are also available through iTunes. Simply open the iTunes app on your iPhone and search for “TechCentral” to find the two podcasts.  — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media

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