In our editorial outlook on 2016 filed before the end of last year, this is what I wrote about Lenovo in Kenya:
Lenovo smartphones started officially retailing in Kenya in 2015. 2016 is expected to be the year when they become available everywhere in the country and compete with players who’ve been in the market for long. However, with Lenovo’s global smartphone strategy changing as it consolidates parts of its business for better alignment, we’ll have to see what happens to its East African business. With all smartphone designing and stuff being handled by Motorola Mobility which Lenovo bought from Google, what will change? Will devices shipping to this part of the world have that iconic Motorola design visible on devices like the Moto X but retain Lenovo branding or what?
Well, we finally have an answer and it is not something that will excite erstwhile Motorola fans anywhere in the world? Why? Because, to be blunt, that brand name is dead. Dead. While Motorola Mobility will continue operating as a Lenovo company, the same cannot be said of the branding on smartphones and other devices it will be producing.
Chinese device maker Lenovo which bought Motorola Mobility back in 2014 is moving to consolidate its mobile device portfolio. This includes ceding the making of its smartphones to the Motorola team but also making sure the Lenovo branding is front and centre of it all. To that end, the Motorola branding will disappear from all devices and be replaced with Moto by Lenovo in the high-end segment (current Moto X-class devices and future products). Mid-range and other budget devices and wearables (Moto 360 and co) will carry Lenovo’s Vibe branding.
Motorola is yet to become profitable since being acquired by Lenovo and such changes are meant to not only help it turn around but to also further boost the fortunes of its parent company in the wake of fierce competition from other companies from China like Huawei and Xiaomi which saw Lenovo’s profits from its mobile business dip in 2015.