China’s Lenovo enters the smart phone fray

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The Independent Tech

The iPhone has been sitting pretty with more than 500,000 units sold since it was released to the Chinese public last October. But things are about to get a little tougher. China's Lenovo Group - the world's fourth largest PC maker - has announced that over the next week it will begin shipping its own smart phone to consumers across the country, and they will be priced at 2,899 yuan (339 euros), or about half the price of your basic iPhone.



The "LePhone'' will be marketed through Lenovo's own PC sales showrooms as well as in 1,600 China Unicom stores. And it will be WiFi ready, in direct contrast to the function being offered in China on the iPhone - the main reason there have been complaints about the gadget in the nation's newspapers and on its constantly buzzing internet chat rooms.

China Unicom is currently the only mainland Chinese telecom operator supporting the iPhone's WCDMA network standard, according to reports in the Chinese media, but has been claiming sales have been hit hard by black market sales of the device.

That company has agreed to support the LePhone and Lenovo says it is negotiating with China Mobile and China Telcom to do the same. And it has also claimed it is developing an even cheaper version of the device to target the lower end of the Chinese market.

"If we could provide the same caliber product [as iPhone] but sold it at about half the price, you can tell who is going to win,'' Lenovo Group's chief executive Yang Yuanqing suggested to the "China Daily'' newspaper.

Lenovo is also predicting that mobile internet products will account for "10 to 20 per cent'' of its revenue within five years.