Lenovo to Jobs: You just don't get China

Lenovo has had a pop at Apple for missing out on the gigantic Chinese market simply because it has no idea how the Chinese consumer ticks.

He told the Financial Times: “We are lucky that Steve Jobs has such a bad temper and doesn’t care about China. If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble.” 

The Taipei Times reckons that your average Chinese bloke in the street is just “as keen on Apple’s sleek gadgets” as the rest of the world, but limited channels to China as well as hefty price tags mean the majority will opt for a knock-off. Not to mention Apple’s paranoia about actually shipping to China. In case of knock-offs.

Lenovo’s not really so worried though: it’s been operating in the country, which is one of the fastest growing emerging markets, with success for a while now. It’s got approximately a 30 percent share and counting.

Besides, chairman Liu Chuanzhi said his company’s LePhone – a signature edition launched specifically for the Chinese market – has been perfectly customised for the user. 

He reckons while the iPhone has over 100,000 content providers, Lenovo only has about one thousand. However, Chinese customers relate to the look and feel of the specific applications and find them “very convenient to use.”

It’s a fair cop, Lenovo chairman Liu Chuanzhi. But actually, even where there’s a will to understand the Chinese consumer and stamp a western footprint all over local efforts, it doesn’t mean it will succeed: Google’s had a tough-as-heck time in China because it doesn’t understand the way the majority of people access the internet. Which is why China, as a rule, wasn’t terribly fussed when it threatened to pull its operations out of the country.

Baidu’s got the needs of the Chinese consumer completely on lock down. Without a major change to Google’s UI and how it markets itself – not to mention the fact that the majority of Chinese consumers don’t know how to pronounce “Google” – it’s not going to get further than the reach of academics and super-internet savvy crowd it has currently.

The same could be said for Apple efforts. Enthusiasts will want an iPiece or iPad to toy around with but as far as reach goes – without a different means of attack, success would be limited.