Motorola to Re-enter China Smartphone Market

Smartphone maker Motorola is to re-enter the Chinese telecoms market early this year following its takeover by Chinese vendor Lenovo in October 2014. (See Lenovo Closes Moto Mobility Buy From Google.)

The company had withdrawn from China in 2013 after being acquired by Internet giant Google, which faced tough competition from local manufacturers as well as international heavyweights, including Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC).

Lenovo Group Ltd. (Hong Kong: 992) clearly reckons it has the wherewithal to challenge those players, revealing in a blog post on Motorola’s website that it will launch three smartphones in China in early 2015.

Those include the Moto X as well as the new Moto X Pro and Moto G with 4G LTE.

The Moto X is to be made available from early February, while the Moto X Pro and Moto G will go on sale sometime after Chinese New Year on February 19.

In an effort to drum up interest in the launch, Motorola Mobility LLC is allowing Chinese consumers to vote on the colors and materials that will be used in the first Moto X handsets to hit the market, indicating the device will eventually be made available in several different designs.

As Lenovo points out, despite quitting the country in 2013, Motorola has a long history in China, where its brand still appears to command some respect.

Nor can the company afford to ignore such a vast and thriving market, with smartphone ownership growing fast as Chinese operators roll out higher speed 4G LTE networks.

Want to know more about 4G LTE? Check out our dedicated 4G LTE content channel here on Light Reading.

China Mobile Communications Corp. -- the country’s biggest mobile operator -- claimed to have grown its 4G customer base to more than 70 million subscribers by the end of November from just 14 million in June, while the number of 3G customers it served rose from 239 million to 242 million during the same period. (See Forget 3G: China Mobile Is a 4G King.)

China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU), meanwhile, was serving 148 million mobile broadband customers in November, having added more than 1 million in that month alone, while China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) signed up more than 2 million 3G customers in November to give it nearly 117 million overall.

Whether Motorola plans to focus on challenging the low-cost gadget makers like Xiaomi or square up to Apple and Samsung at the opposite end of the market remains unclear.

— Iain Morris, News Editor, Light Reading

iainmorris 1/7/2015 | 1:52:08 PM
4G growth The attractions are clear given the kind of 4G growth China Mobile is reporting - even with phone prices falling Chinese incomes are rising and so the addressable market just keeps getting bigger.
mhhf1ve 1/7/2015 | 5:34:03 PM
competing with smartphone startups in china? I don't see how Moto is going to compete with the smartphone startups in China. Is the Moto brand as strong as Apple or Samsung? Does anyone care when it's just another Android phone?  
GaofengW310 1/8/2015 | 3:57:04 AM
Re: competing with smartphone startups in china? I also concerns about the same. It was years ago when Moto has rather good brand in China, but time is different now. :-)
iainmorris 1/8/2015 | 11:59:43 AM
Motorola boost WSJ is reporting that Lenovo expects Motorola to make up 40% of its smartphone shipments this year following the reintroduction of the Motorola brand to China - http://www.wsj.com/articles/lenovo-expects-motorola-to-contribute-over-40-of-smartphone-shipments-1420686212.
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