Lenovo and Ashton Kutcher partnership may not be what it seemed to be

Smartphones or tablets, not both

Lenovo Vibe Z

Update: Lenovo has clarified with TechRadar that Kutcher is not, in fact, working on smartphones for the company.

"Please be advised that the development agreement Lenovo has with Ashton Kutcher is for tablets only, and not for smartphones," Lenovo Executive Director of External Communications Ray Gorman told us.

See TechRadar's latest story for more on this new wrinkle.

Original story follows…

Playing iPhone creator Steve Jobs in a film doesn't qualify you to design actual smartphones yourself, but don't tell that to Ashton Kutcher and Lenovo.

The actor who "Punk'd" people in the early days teamed up with the tech company in 2013, and now he's helping it design a line of smartphones that will come out later in 2014, Lenovo has announced.

Lenovo Chief Marketing Officer David Roman dropped this unlikely news on Recode, telling the site that Kutcher is actually the real deal.

"I know on one level, it sounds corny, but it is real," Roman said. "He not only sees himself as an engineer, but he is an engineer. If he sees a problem, he wants to solve it."

If you say so

Kutcher signed on as a product engineer with Lenovo in 2013, appearing in ads and helping the company develop and promote its Yoga Tablet line.

When it comes to the new Lenovo phones, Kutcher will have a heavy hand in designing the user experience, Roman said.

The actor best known for his role as Kelso on That '70s Show may not have any design credentials, but in fact he has been involved in the tech world for a number of years, having invested in start-ups like Foursquare, Airbnb and Uber while co-founding the venture capital group A-Grade.

He even gave a impressive talk about social media and tech investments at CTIA 2013, and he studied biochemical engineering in college before leaving to pursue a modeling career.

Does that mean he can help design a decent smartphone to follow up Lenovo's Vibe Z? For that, we'll just have to wait and see.

  • At least Kutcher isn't designing the iPhone 6 (as far as we know).