Lenovo sets stage for rumored K900 smartphone with Intel processor

So far, Lenovo has been biggest in China with smartphones

LAS VEGAS -- Lenovo showed off several smartphones on Sunday at International CES that recently went on sale in China, a prelude to a rumored Intel-based IdeaPhone K900 smartphone.

The existing Lenovo smartphones are all based on ARM processors and are designed for China and other emerging markets, a representative said at a preview event called CES Unveiled.

The models Lenovo displayed included the S720, A800, S890 and K860, which is rumored to be the predecessor to the K900. All run recent versions of Android, either Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean. Lenovo officials said they would not comment on rumors of upcoming devices. It isn't clear whether the rumored K900 would ever sell in the U.S.

Intel has been promising Atom-based smartphones for two years and showed a prototype at CES in 2012.

China is one of the emerging markets where low-cost smartphones are driving enormous global smartphone growth, according to economists at CES.

Growth in smartphone sales is especially robust in China's heavily populated major cities. There are more than 130 cities in China with 10 million or more people, compared to just nine such cities in the U.S., according to Steven Koenig, director of industry analysis for the Consumer Electronics Association, which sponsors CES. He said that sub-$100 smartphones in China will be the bulk of smartphones sold in the future, "which will generate very high levels of growth in China."

Lenovo is the largest seller of smartphones in China, but trails several manufacturers in the U.S., according to several analysts.

China and other emerging markets are also ripe for smartphone sales because the level of smartphone penetration is only 40%, compared with 80% saturation in the U.S. and other mature markets, Koenig added.

Smartphones are again expected to be the largest segment of all consumer electronics sales globally in 2013, accounting for $334 billion in sales out of $1.1 trillion for all consumer electronics, according to CEA. The next largest segment will be tablets, which are expected to reach $87 billion. In 2012, smartphone sales hit $274 billion, while tablets hit $70 billion.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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