Lenovo Senior Vice President David Schmoock, who heads the company's North American operations, recently shared his thoughts on the rise of the tablet, Windows 8 vs. Android and Lenovo's attempts to raise its profile in the U.S. consumer market.
Tablets vs. PCs
The rapid development of smartphones and tablets has caused many in the computing industry to proclaim the death of the old-style home PC -- combined with cloud technology, consumers seemingly have few reasons left to own a fully fledged computer.
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Schmoock, however, says that rumors of the traditional PC's demise are greatly exaggerated. He's seen little evidence that tablet adoption is undercutting laptop sales.
"The tablet world is almost completely complementary to the PC world," Schmoock says. "It really is a dual-device world."
Of course, that isn't to say there isn't major change happening on the device front, he adds. For one thing, PC refresh cycles have grown longer thanks to a poor economy.
"There was a period of time in which people paused, just because of the economic recession: 'Maybe instead of 36 months, we'll go 48 months,'" says Schmoock. However, those same business customers are now beginning to add tablets on top of their traditional PC deployments, he says.
Lenovo's most recent quarterly results show the company growing PC market share across the globe, even as overall sales enter a downturn. Moreover, Lenovo has nearly caught up to top dog HP in terms of PC market share worldwide.
Schmoock says that the mobile market is likely to consolidate more heavily than the PC market, at least in terms of form factors.
"I do think there will be more convergence between tablets and phones than I have seen between tablets and PCs," he says.
Windows 8 and Android
The senior vice president was bullish on Windows 8's prospects, despite increasingly widespread discontent over the operating system.
"I think Win 8 will be successful. If it's not, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. ... We as a company ... have excitement around Windows 8, and I think, initially, the success of Windows 8 is going to be consumer-oriented."
However, Lenovo is pursuing different aims with its Windows 8 and Android projects, Schmoock says.
"What I think you'll see is probably different form factors around Android. Some of the smaller screen sizes will be more Android-focused from Lenovo," he says. "ThinkPad [using Windows 8], by default, is going to be geared toward commercial and business [use].
"The key, though, is making sure you know what you're doing and having your target in focus from a market perspective. Even today in smartphones, there isn't one company that dominates everything. At the end of the day there's always going to be a strong No. 2 and probably a good No. 3," says Schmoock.
North America is still the slowest-growing of Lenovo's major regional markets, according to Bloomberg. The company in North America posted revenue gains of 6.8% in the first quarter, compared to 62% in the EMEA region and 72% in Asia and Latin America. However, Lenovo is looking to change that in 2012.
Key to the company's plans to raise its profile among North American consumers, Schmoock says, are efforts like the recently announced partnership with the NFL. Large-scale PR events and the use of the famous NFL "shield" logo in marketing materials could improve Lenovo's mindshare in the consumer market, he says.
"I'm expecting this holiday season to be significantly bigger than the last holiday season. And the last holiday was the first time in a long time that Lenovo's been [big] in the U.S. market during the holidays," he adds.
I asked Schmoock where he sees Lenovo in 10 years' time.
"Where we'll be in 10 years is making cool products. What those cool products will be, I have no idea," he says with a laugh. "What we want to do is continually lead that charge on innovation -- come out with new form factors, new devices."