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Moto is making a slow but steady return to Asia

Returning to a market under a new owner can be a daunting task, but Lenovo's Asia Pacific rollout for the Moto brand will play it safe with a measured pace.


It's been a while, but Asian fans of Motorola's phones now have something to cheer for. Lenovo, who owns the brand, last week launched a series of Moto phones in Singapore, including the Moto X Force.

The launch, part of an Asia-wide roll out, is a step of Lenovo's plan to make its $2.91 billion buyout of the Motorola branding from Google worth the investment. However, the Chinese electronics giant isn't going in guns blazing. Instead, Lenovo's strategy is to build up its retail and service infrastructure first, while also having a sizeable portfolio of devices to go to market.

"It's not just the infrastructure we have to put in place, it's also the range of phones," said Sridhar Ramaswamy, Lenovo's director of marketing in Asia-Pacific. "Rather than just bringing in one phone, we are launching six."

With Lenovo's Moto phones having launched in Vietnam last October and Thailand earlier this year, the company aims to also get to the third biggest market in the region after China and India: Indonesia.

However, there are some hurdles Lenovo will have to cross first. For one, local regulations require parts of the phone be made in Indonesia before being allowed on sale. It will take time, but Ramaswamy is confident the Indonesian launch will take place soon.

The road ahead, though, will remain a tough one for the Moto brand.

While Lenovo has been preparing the Moto revival, brands like Oppo and Asus have established themselves in the region, said IDC analyst Tay Xiaohan.

"It will take a lot of effort for Lenovo to build up its Moto brand again in these countries. The market is now way more competitive with all these players, along with the local vendors that offer low-cost phones," he adds.

For now, Lenovo plans to focus on making sure its latest Moto phones, such as the newly announced Moto Z Play, land earlier in Asia, especially in developed markets like Singapore, where consumers have access to the newest devices from Apple and Samsung at the same time as the US.

"We are now prioritising Singapore, and we will bring in products more quickly," said Ramaswamy. "Singapore will definitely be one of our wave one countries."