Excerpts from a WSJ interview with Bill Amelio:
WSJ: There are a lot of rumors out there that Lenovo is working on a $100 PC. What’s the story?
Mr. Amelio: We’re not there yet, but we’ve just announced a program in India and China with Microsoft and Intel that allows people to get access to a PC for somewhere between $100 and $150. The strategy goes like this: We take a fully functioning PC, and we drop the cost in half. The bank picks up one half, and the customer picks up the other half. Then the customer buys computer cards, just like you buy phone cards. You can buy a card for, say, 10 hours of computing. Over time, you essentially buy back the computer from the bank by buying computer cards. This opens up computing to people who would never be able to afford it otherwise.
WSJ: How do Lenovo’s marketing strategies differ around the world?
Mr. Amelio: In India, we work with Bollywood actors and do key product placements on game shows. Outside of the U.S., soccer is very popular, so we hired Ronaldinho to do ads for us. In the U.S., we’re working with the NBA [the National Basketball Association]. Another way is through the Olympics, which have broad appeal around the world. We’re doing some interesting stuff with blogs, too — check out the Design Matters blog on Lenovoblogs.com.