Lenovo ousts HP as king of PC makers

Lenovo has stolen the crown of the world’s biggest personal computer maker from Hewlett-Packard in a defining milestone for the Chinese brand.

The American Hewlett-Packard’s six-year reign ended in the most recent quarter after Lenovo shipped 15.7 per cent of personal computers globally, beating HP by a margin of 0.2 percentage points, according to figures from Gartner, the market research group.

The company had been widely expected to overtake HP this year, having grown steadily since buying IBM’s personal computer business in 2005. While figures from IDC, a rival market research group, showed HP retaining a slim lead over Lenovo, they pointed in the same direction, with Lenovo closing the gap.

Dennis Lam, an analyst at DBS Vickers in Hong Kong, told The Times: “I think it is a milestone even though it was expected by everyone. I think we will see Lenovo’s market share continue to grow. If you look at their performance their share grew across the board, in every single region. While HP was foundering, Lenovo took some of the share.”

Mr Lam added that Lenovo’s purchase of the IBM business had given it a strong presence in the commercial PC market, which has held up more strongly than consumer demand.

HP has suffered amid the broader malaise blighting the PC industry, which is expected to face its worst year for a decade in 2013 following a double whammy of economic weakness and the rising threat from tablet and mobile devices.

Gartner’s figures showed that worldwide shipments of PCs fell by 8.3 per cent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year.

However, even in this worsening landscape HP has struggled with management turmoil and a long-running legal tussle with Oracle. Meg Whitman, who took over as chief executive when Leo Apotheker was ousted a year ago, painted a grim picture last week saying that HP lacked “competitive focus” and would not recover until 2014, sending shares down.

Lenovo, meanwhile, has shown resilience largely thanks to success in faster-growing emerging markets – such as rural China, as well as Russia and Turkey – combined with a few well-placed acquisitions, which has allowed it to grow its sales at a time when others have struggled.

Last month Lenovo announced the purchase of a small cloud computing company in Indiana to help it compete with Apple’s iCloud. On Tuesday it launched its next generation of “convertible” tablets that also function as laptops, designed to compete with the iPad.

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