Lenovo Teams Up with Baidu to Integrate AI Technology into Smartphones

Chinese tech giant Baidu has announced a partnership with Lenovo in a move aimed at leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities within the smartphone market.
Motorola smartphoneThis collaboration will see Baidu’s generative AI technology, particularly its Ernie large language model (LLM), integrated into Lenovo’s smartphones.

According to a spokesperson for Baidu, the partnership mirrors similar collaborations recently established with Samsung and Honor, further highlighting the company’s concerted efforts to explore practical applications for its AI models within the mobile industry, Reuters news report said.

Lenovo, renowned for its range of personal computers and tablets, as well as its ownership of the Motorola brand, remains tight-lipped about the specifics of the collaboration, declining to comment on the matter.

Lenovo in November said its smartphone business achieved double-digit premium to market shipment growth year-on-year in Q2 fiscal 2023-24. The smartphone business enhanced its competitiveness of products and optimized its portfolio with a higher mix of premium products, with a record high mix of premium products driven by sales of razr.

Lenovo in October outlined its vision of ‘AI for All’ at its Tech World innovation event, focusing in particular on its model for hybrid AI. Lenovo’s vision included a smart device portfolio including AI-enabled PCs, smartphones, and tablets, as well as AI-ready and AI-optimized infrastructure, solutions, and services.

Gartner estimates 240 million GenAI smartphones and 54.5 million AI PCs will be shipped by the end of 2024. This will represent 22 percent of basic and premium smartphones and 22 percent of all PCs in 2024.

AI smartphones are capable of locally running a base or fine-tuned AI model that generates new derived versions of content, strategies, designs and methods. Examples of this include Gemini Nano from Google, ERNIE from Baidu and OpenAI’s GPT-4.

Baidu’s Ernie model, already integrated into Lenovo’s browser and app store applications for personal computers and tablets, is set to extend its reach to Lenovo smartphones. This move underscores the growing trend among smartphone manufacturers to offer AI-driven features such as chatbots and real-time translation services, following the widespread popularity of AI technology since the introduction of ChatGPT in late 2022.

While Google’s Pixel phones have been recognized as leaders in AI smartphones, powered by robust cloud-based AI services, Apple is reportedly exploring the integration of generative AI models into its iPhones.

Market research firm Canalys predicts that AI-capable smartphones will account for approximately 5 percent of global smartphone shipments in 2024, equivalent to around 60 million devices.

Notably, AI services provided by U.S. companies like OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, and Google are inaccessible in China, paving the way for Chinese firms to dominate the market. Baidu, alongside rivals Alibaba and Tencent, boasts over 200 AI models tailored to the Chinese market.

Baidu’s CEO, Robin Li, emphasized the importance of developing practical applications for AI technology. While other top Chinese phone brands like Vivo, Xiaomi, and Huawei are also exploring on-device AI models, details of their initiatives remain undisclosed.

Analysts suggest that Baidu’s collaboration with Lenovo not only strengthens its position in the AI sphere but also provides access to a wealth of data through deeply integrated AI features in smartphones. This data could potentially propel Baidu’s LLM to compete more effectively against rival AI companies in the U.S.

Ivan Lam, an analyst at research firm Counterpoint, emphasized the significance of integrating AI features into smartphones, foreseeing them as essential offerings in the long term.