Lenovo Eying Up NEC’s Smartphone Unit


Lenovo’s determination to buy up a mobile phone company shows no signs of abating, or at least it doesn’t if all of these rumors flying around are anything to go by. Having been linked with a buyout of BlackBerry earlier this year, it’s reported that the PC maker has now turned its attention to NEC’s mobile phone business. NEC is reportedly at a loss for what to do with its struggling mobile unit, and so washing its hands of it completely might well be an option for the Japanese firm.

The report comes from Reuters, who says that NEC has been holding high level talks with Lenovo chiefs to make that happen. However, Lenovo isn’t the only potential buyer, with several Japanese companies also interested in buying the division.

Lenovo would definitely be a nice fit for NEC though, given its ambitions in the mobile arena. The Chinese firm already has its own smartphone operation of course, but compared to rivals Apple and Samsung it really isn’t much to speak of. While it’s gained some decent traction in China, where it ranks as the second-best selling mobile brand behind Samsung, it’s largely failed to have any impact in the few foreign markets where it’s been launched.

As we covered previously on SiliconANGLE, mobile is seen as critical to Lenovo’s future. The company is pursuing a two-pronged strategy of trying to ‘protect’ its PC business while ‘attacking’ the mobile business as these slowly morph into the same thing. To this end, Lenovo has had one eye on BlackBerry for the last couple of months, with CEO Yuanqing Yang publicly commenting at one stage that such an acquisition “could possibly make sense”. However, the rumors have died down since he made those comments, and with NEC on the horizon it would seem that the company is intent on exploring all of its options before making any move.

NEC’s Mobile Misery


NEC’s venture into the mobile phone business has been little short of disastrous to date, with its mobile division reportedly bleeding cash for the last two years. This was illustrated when, last October, it decided to slash its mobile phone sales target from 5 million units to just 4.3 million units as the reality dawned that it just can’t compete with the likes of Samsung and Apple.

To that end, the company stated to investors earlier today that it’s “considering a number of ways to bolster the competitiveness of our mobile phone business, but nothing has been decided.”

It’s a pity because some of NEC’s phones actually look pretty decent. At last month’s Mobile World Congress it unveiled the new Medias W N-05E (pictured above), which folds open like a book to reveal two separate screens that measure 5.6 inches across, allowing users to keep two apps open at the same time. When folded up again, the device looks and acts much like a bog standard smartphone.

Sadly though, it seems that no matter how cool their devices might be, the name “NEC” just isn’t cool itself, hence it’s struggled to gain traction in a market where Apple and Samsung are largely seen as  ‘coolness’ personified.