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Lenovo reportedly axing its Vibe brand of smartphones

Reports out of China indicate that Lenovo is closing the door on its Vibe series of phones to consolidate its product offerings.

Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Lenovo currently stands as the world's fourth biggest smartphone manufacturer, but it hopes to climb up the ladder by simplifying its product range.

Until now, the electronics giant has been selling handsets under three brands -- Motorola, Vibe and Lemon. Now, it's cutting out its Vibe brand of middle-to-high-end phones, Chen Xudong, president of Lenovo's Mobile Business Group, reportedly told Tech QQ.

According to the publication, Lenovo will now be selling mid-tier and premium devices under the world-renowned Motorola brand, which it bought off Google for $2.91 billion in October of 2014. The Moto smartphones will be priced between 1,500 yuan ($235, AU$325, £155) and 5,000 yuan ($780, AU$1,080, £520), while the Lemon series will consist of more budget handsets that are sold for as low as 600 yuan ($95, AU$130, £60), the report stated. It also appears Lemon will be inheriting some of Vibe's hardware, with the line consisting of a cheaper K series and the midrange X line, the latter of which may follow phones like the Vibe X2.

Lenovo, however, denied the news, with its Mobile Business Group's director of marketing, Sridhar Ramaswamy, telling CNET: "We created VIBE as a smartphone brand and we are committed to developing it. We do not have any plans to phase out the VIBE brand, and it will remain."

The company's reported move to solidify its product range comes at a time when the growth of the Chinese smartphone market -- currently the world's largest -- is slowing down. In August, IDC predicted that China is expected to slow to a crawl. In 2014, 32.3 percent of all smartphones produced globally were shipped to China, and by 2019, with the rise of markets like India and Africa, that number is expected to drop to 23.1 percent.

While the laptop maker has a limited presence in the US smartphone market, its smartphones do particularly well in countries like South Asia and especially in India, where it currently stands as the fourth biggest smartphone maker, according to Counterpoint Research. The research film also reported the Chinese company to be the world's fourth biggest smartphone maker during quarter three.

"China clearly remains a very important market," says Ryan Reith, program director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, though he added that "the focus will be more on exports than consumption as domestic growth slows significantly."

To further bolster its position in the global market, Xudong also told the Economic Times that Lenovo intends to ramp up smartphone production India significantly next year. The multinational hopes to manufacture 10 million phones in India, the exec said.

Update, 6:55 PM AEDT: Added comment from Lenovo

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