Lenovo: Convergence through cloud as future of IT

Seamless movement of data from one device to another will be the next wave of innovation for the IT industry, says Lenovo chief operating officer, who notes that hardware spending will remain strong.

The future of innovation for the IT industry will be in data convergence, said Lenovo's chief operating officer, adding that cloud computing and mobile Internet will play a big role for the company to achieve convergence.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia during his recent trip to Singapore, Rory Read, president and chief operating officer of Lenovo, said the convergence technology, which allows seamless movement of data from one device to another, will be the next wave of innovation for the next three to five years.

Users will not want to move their data from their smartphone to other devices manually, said Read, noting that this will need to be done seamlessly. "Think about it. You will take a picture with your smartphone or smart camera. It's going to automatically, [via] 3G, link up and distribute that information to your laptop," he illustrated.

Cloud computing and the mobile Internet will play key roles in data convergence, said Read. "It's not about any single device, it's about smart devices, the convergence of devices and applications, and content on the cloud. [It is about] the ubiquitous connection point of 3G and and applications on the cloud. That convergence is what will allow us to move data seamlessly."

He pointed out that the company is already working on cloud computing and mobile Internet in China. With Lephone--the company's smartphone which is now still limited to the Chinese market--Lenovo has worked with Chinese Internet companies such as Baidu, Ren Ren, and QQ, to build a tailored set of applications and content for users to access their information through the cloud on their smart devices, said Read.

The company will also be launching its tablet device, the LePad, in early January in China, and has plans to bring it out to the United States during spring to early summer next year, he said.

Read noted that while the company launches its devices first in China, its long-term strategy is to bring the gadgets to the global market. By using China as a launchpad, Lenovo can leverage its "power brand" in the country, its strong base, its supply chain, and its partners in building cloud computing apps, he said.

"What's key here is that we need to build critical mass. In our industry, it is important to have scale," he said. "[When] we win in China by getting a double-digit market share and significant base, that's the time to bring our products to other markets."

Read reiterated the importance of cloud computing and mobile Internet to the company's future by saying that revenues from such services may reach 10 to 20 percent for the company over several years.

Despite the rising influence of these non-hardware trends, Read said the company will not go down the path of writing separate software applications. Instead, he added that its strategy is to deliver computing clients and partner with key players on content and software to develop convergence platforms that allow customers to access their data on the cloud.

Hardware spending to remain
While he believes the future of IT lies in convergence, Read said hardware spending in the present will remain strong despite reports that it will diminish even as software spending rises.

He ventured a guess that out of the world's population of 6 billion, fewer than a billion have PC hardware. "There are still plenty of people who have to get the hardware to access the [software] interface and data," he said.

He noted that the emerging markets will continue to grow and that Lenovo wants to continue to gain market share in those regions.