Chinese PC maker Lenovo plans to pour over US$ 1.2 billion into artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and big data in the next four years, as part of its efforts to diversify their operations amid the stalled growth of its PC and smartphone business, local media is reporting (in Chinese).
Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said the annual investment in the above three areas will represent over one-fifth of the company’s total annual R&D expenditure by March 2021.
Lenovo remained the top PC vendor in the first quarter of 2017, garnering a 19.9% share in the global market by shipping 12.377 million units, IT research firm Gartner noted. Yet its rival HP has narrowed Lenovo’s lead with shipments of 12.118 million.
Among the company’s three main lines of business, namely data centers, mobile devices, and PCs and smart devices (PCSD), revenue from PCSD business accounted for around 70% of its total revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2016, according to the firm’s Q3 FY 2016/17 results released this February.
As competition with its rivals has become even fiercer and growth in its PC and smartphone business has flatlined, Lenovo has been striving to diversify its revenue source and doubling down on artificial intelligence to explore new growth driver.
The company set up its own artificial intelligence lab in March, headed by AI expert Xu Feiyu, who once worked as a principal researcher at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence.
Last November, Lenovo appointed Dr. Yong Rui, former deputy managing director of Microsoft Research Asia, to become its chief technology officer, overseeing the company’s corporate research and technology organization, which covers artificial intelligence and big data analytics technologies, among others.
Lenovo is not alone in hopping on the bandwagon of artificial intelligence. China’s three internet giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent all have been stepping up efforts on this research.
Baidu set up Institute of Deep Learning in 2013 and has spent more than RMB 10 billion on its three AI research labs in recent years. Alibaba has introduced its ET program, an “artificial brain” able to tackle complex problems in medicine, urban planning, and the industrial sector. Tencent’s artificial intelligence lab, which was established less than one year ago, has also delivered stunning performance. Its artificial intelligence Fine Art (绝艺 in Chinese) won the 10th Computer Go UEC Cup in March.