Lenovo's rise amid giants defies critics

Updated: 2013-11-25 07:50

By Alfred Romann in Hong Kong (China Daily)

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Lenovo's rise amid giants defies critics
Actor Ashton Kutcher was announced as the face of product engineering for Lenovo at the launch of their Yoga tablet last month. Lenovo currently has the largest global share of PC sales and is number four in both smartphones and tablet sales. [Photo / Agencies]

In the time that you take to read this, people around the world will have snapped up a Lenovo computer, tablet or smartphone - about one of these electronic devices every four seconds or so.

Lenovo Group Ltd has defied the skeptics to prove that an Asian company, in this case a Chinese personal computer maker, can emerge as a multinational player - not just as a manufacturer of products for other companies but as a truly global brand.

Lenovo now has the largest global market share of PCs and is in fourth place in the United States. It is also the fourth largest tablet company in the world behind Apple Inc, Samsung Group and AsusTek Computer Inc. It is currently producing the type of mobile phones that make people salivate.

"You want to see a really, really nice phone? Look at Lenovo," said an industry consultant during a recent interview. It was an unprompted comment in the middle of a conversation about innovation in China.

The Lenovo K900 is indeed a very sleek phone; nice to hold and easy to operate. Over the next year or two, the company wants to introduce its phones in two dozen new markets.

Lenovo, the once lumbering enterprise known as Legend, has become a nimble global player.

Starting from a small business launched in 1984 by 10 scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lenovo Group Ltd has expanded fast to acquire IBM's PC business in May 2005.

Special Coverage: Lenovo extends global outreach

Lenovo's rise amid giants defies critics
Lenovo's track record of partnerships with foreign companies had not previously been successful. A 2002 drive to hire managers from Silicon Valley had been a bust, with few of them lasting more than a year. The IBM purchase was to have a happier outcome.

In 2004, Lenovo had just 2 percent of the market and was ranked ninth globally among computer manufacturers. It had a market capitalization of about $3 billion.

After the IBM deal, Lenovo became the third-largest PC maker in the world, still well behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

Some growing pains followed the acquisition but, thanks to a distinct governance structure, an ability to straddle multiple cultures and a constant and company-wide drive to innovate, Lenovo took over the single largest share of the PC market in the world last month.

"We are not satisfied with that. We are looking forward to achieving more in the next three or four years," says Robert Li, executive director of supply chain for Asia-Pacific at Lenovo.

Lenovo has grown into a $34 billion company with products in 160 countries. Few other Asian companies have been able to navigate the global marketplace as successfully as Lenovo - and in such a competitive field.

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