Lenovo Planning to Launch its Tablets in India in 3 Months

Lenovo Group Ltd. plans to launch its consumer and commercial tablet computers in India in the next three months, as it seeks to grow market share in a country where Internet usage is on the rise.

The Chinese company unveiled its tablet series–the IdeaPad Tablet K1 for consumers, the ThinkPad Tablet for business users and the IdeaPad Tablet P1 for home and office use–globally in July.

Lenovo Tablet
Lenovo Tablet

In India, Lenovo’s tablets will join the likes of Apple Inc.’s iPad and Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Tab, which are facing stiff competition from local players who are bringing in low-cost versions of the device into the highly price-sensitive market.

A model shows Lenovo’s IdeaPad Tablet K1 at an unveiling in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 2, 2011.

The company is trying to obtain permission from the local government to launch the devices in India, Amar Babu R.K., managing director of Lenovo India Pvt. Ltd., said recently.

Government approval is essential in India as certification of all wireless products is mandatory before starting sales.

The launch comes at a time when Internet penetration in India is fast picking up as telecom service providers start rolling out third-generation telephony services and wireless broadband networks. Current estimates put the number of Internet users in India in a range of 80 million to 100 million, compared with 71 million in 2009.

“It’s [tablets are] a new product category and it has many years of life,” Mr. Babu said. “Growth in the segment will start coming as we go down on the price curve and increase the experience,” he said, without elaborating.

Globally, Lenovo’s tablets are available at a starting price of $499, the same as iPads. In India, the tablets will be sold at similar prices, before taxes and sales costs, Mr. Babu said.

Some analysts expect many Indians, especially in rural areas, to buy tablets instead of laptop and desktop computers to access the Internet, but Mr. Babu disagrees. “Tablet is a consumption device, you still need PCs to create the content,” he said.

Lenovo, China’s largest PC maker by shipments, lags behind Dell Inc., Acer Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. in India with a 10.8% market share, according to market research firm IDC.

Mr. Babu said Lenovo is investing heavily in branding and campaign initiatives to grab a 15%-17% market share in India to become the top PC maker. He declined to give a timeframe to achieve the target.

In the April-June quarter, the company’s market share grew 3.6 percentage points in India, according to IDC. Mr. Babu said he expects to sustain the momentum in the July-September period as well.