LAS VEGAS--Lenovo wants to be the No. 1 personal-technology company in the world, but it plans to get there on its own time.
At this year's CES, the Chinese maker of laptop and desktop systems debuted more than 20 new products: There were plenty of more traditional systems, an Android smart TV and a pair of ultrabooks. But most interesting are the new IdeaPad Yoga tablet/laptop hybrid designed with Windows 8 in mind, and an Android smartphone--the K800--with Intel's Medfield Atom processor and enough power to rival Samsung's Galaxy Nexus.
There's just one more thing--we won't see the most notable of these devices on store shelves here in North America anytime soon.
The K800, a snappy but thick phone running Lenovo's Clover UI on top of Android, has garnered plenty of attention in the last 24 hours here in Las Vegas, but it's actually the flagship phone of a half-dozen models rolling out in China next month. Lenovo's product people wouldn't even begin to speculate about when any of the phones might migrate across the Pacific, saying only that it was "important to learn in China first."
Indeed, although China might not be the best place to learn about dealing with North American carriers.
The Yoga, which folds itself inside-out to convert from a thin laptop to a de facto tablet running Windows 8--you might call it the Redmond salutation pose--is destined for these shores, but the timing is contingent on the release of Windows 8. Lenovo Vice President Luis Hernandez told me the Yoga is compatible with Windows 7, but clearly designed for the integrated touch-screen experience promised in Windows 8.
World domination via multiple screens
Lenovo has built a reputation for making solid systems for business, but Hernandez says the company's goal is nothing short of becoming "the number one personal technology company in the world." For now, the IBM descendant seems eager to re-pave a path to such world domination by rolling out a cloud strategy and every imaginable screen to access it.
Lenovo's take on the cloud involves lots of syncing between devices and a remote control feature that easily "throws" content between your phone, tab and TV. Nothing groundbreaking, but the execution is nice.
"We understand our users need more than just the traditional keyboard and screen for a truly satisfying digital experience. Our Personal Cloud vision integrates all devices, from tablets to TVs, for a comprehensive mobile Internet experience anytime, anywhere," Liu Jun, senior vice president, said in a statement released at the start of CES.
Lenovo isn't yet prepared to make all those screens available in this hemisphere just yet--the smartphones and smart TVs are China-only for the time being--but perhaps there's no hurry. As anyone who's ever played Risk knows, the game is never won in one night, and you've gotta have control of China and Kamchatka to have a prayer of taking over the world.