Like ivy, Lenovo PCs creeping across all continents

Don't let Apple distract you: the other growth story in PCs is Lenovo, which is posting impressive gains as it consolidates its dominance of overseas markets.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor


Forget Apple.

While most people seem to be distracted by the shiny things coming out of Cupertino, they fail to see the successes of Lenovo, they of the dowdy-but-ironclad ThinkPad and a startling array of consumer PCs.

The company's fourth quarter numbers are in, and it's a doozy:

  • Full-year sales of $29.6 billion, a 37 percent increase year over year.
  • Q4 sales of $7.5 billion, an increase of 54 percent year over year.
  • Q4 profit of $806 million, an increase of 34 percent year over year.
  • Worldwide PC shipments up 44 percent, year over year.
  • Moved from fourth- to second-place in the world's largest PC vendor race, with 12.9 percent market share.
  • Growing faster than the top 4 PC vendors for 10 quarters running.

Call it the quiet giant. (Though that may be a misnomer, considering the loud finishes it uses on its IdeaPad consumer laptops.)

The company didn't break out the numbers specific to its consumer, SMB and enterprise product groups -- too bad, as I would love to know whether the ThinkPad is retaining its appeal in the BYOD-friendly enterprise -- but it did reveal how it's doing on a geographic basis via new reporting business units based on global regions.

Bright spots:

  • Lenovo's now the number one PC vendor in India.
  • It retained pole position in China and Japan. China PC shipments in Q1 increased 22.7 percent, year over year. Lenovo chalks this up to presence in "emerging cities."
  • It's now number three in Russia. (Though it's unclear who's Nos. 1 and 2. Any Russian ZDNet readers out there know?)
  • North American PC shipments were up 26 percent, year over year.
  • "Mature" markets remain 45 percent of Lenovo's total sales, and the company notched double-digit market share (10 percent) here for the first time.

And lest you think the desktop is dead, consider that Lenovo shipped 43 percent more of them worldwide in Q4, compared to the same time last year.

The big question for the company is what's next. As it "protects and attacks" (yes, that's its strategic mandate) the PC market across the globe, the company must concern itself with further diversifying its product portfolio. The company says much about what it calls the "PC plus" era -- you know, the one with smartphones, tablets, Internet-connected TVs, and so forth -- but right now it's only dominating the PC part.

To that end, Lenovo says its smartphone business in China posted market share gains of 8.2 percentage points -- it's the number four provider there -- and its tablet business grew to 17.2 percent market share, making it the number two provider there and the fourth largest in the world. Impressive numbers to be sure, but the company is a homegrown favorite and it remains to be seen whether it can replicate that success elsewhere.

Photo: Lenovo's ThinkPad T430u, its new "business ultrabook."

Editorial standards