A year ago, Lenovo CEO Liu Chuanzhi observed that its position in the Chinese market was secure, in part because Apple didn’t care about the Chinese market. “If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble.” Lenovo has historically controlled about 30 percent of the Chinese market, but recent results from the two companies show Lenovo might be getting into trouble: Apple’s total sales revenue in China has outpaced Lenovo for the first time.
Comparing Lenovo’s most recent financial results with Apple’s, Lenovo pulled in $2.8 billion from the Chinese market during its most recent fiscal quarter, where Apple generated some $3.8 billion during the second quarter of 2011. Lenovo’s sales represent a healthy 23.4 percent growth from a year ago, but Apple’s sales in China are six times higher than they were a year ago.
Admittedly, Apple’s sales revenue includes the iPhone and iPad, rather than just Macintosh computers. While Lenovo has dabbled in smartphones and is working on getting its first tablet devices to market, Lenovo’s business is still primarily PCs.
The Financial Times was the first to report the comparison.
Lenovo has contested the characterization, noting that comparing Apple’s overall business—including smartphones and tablets&mdsah;to Lenovo’s PC-based business is not a fair comparison, and that Lenovo remains far ahead of any of its competitors in China. According to IDC, Lenovo is the third-largest PC manufacturer on the planet, behind HP—which is looking to sell off its world-leading PC business—and Dell;and Dell. In fact, Lenovo’s PC business was showing double-digit year-on-year growth, where the only other top-five PC manufacturer to show year-on-year growth over 5 percent was Asus.
Including Apple’s iPhone and iPad businesses alongside sales of traditional PCs is a controversial move; however, at least in the case of the iPad, some analysis firms seem to be willing to take the leap: DisplaySearch recently crowned Apple the world’s top mobile PC vendor—based on the success of the iPad.