Lenovo leaves HP in the dust, looks to build on PC success with smartphones

Lenovo K890Lenovo is riding a wave of success at the moment, after announcing some exciting Windows 8 tablets, and now it appears the company has become the world’s number one PC manufacturer, and is preparing to release its smartphone range internationally too.

Research firm Gartner has released data that shows Lenovo has pushed past Hewlett-Packard to take the number one spot, and the figures read like this: HP can claim a 15.5-percent global market share, with 13.55 million units shipped, while Lenovo has a 15.7-percent market share with 13.77 million units heading out the door this quarter.

Perhaps more importantly, Gartner shows HP’s sales as down 16.4-percent on last year, while Lenovo is up by just under 10-percent. If you had to choose a direction as a company, you’d want to be the one going up.

According to Reuters, researchers from IDC still put Lenovo ahead of HP, with market shares of 15.7 and 15.9-percent respectively. HP told them that IDC’s report was “more expansive,” but then, they would say that. Almost regardless of who’s right today, the trend certainly indicates the position swap will happen soon.

HP’s CEO Meg Whitman has been quoted as saying the company is in the first year of a five-year restructuring plan, but despite the much-publicized downturn in PC sales — IDC says global sales have dropped by 8.6-percent since July — it still hasn’t made up its mind about re-entering the smartphone and tablet market. Recent reports seem to indicate confusion regarding this market segment within HP.

Lenovo to enter international smartphone market

Lenovo feels rather differently. It already produces smartphones for a variety of Eastern markets and in June this year, overtook both Nokia and Huawei to take second place in the Chinese market. Perhaps most tellingly — and a point HP needs to hear — is that its phone sales surpassed that of its PC sales for the first time there too.

It’s not just low-end hardware the company produces either, as it introduced the LePhone K860 in August, which has a 5-inch display with a 720p resolution, a quad-core processor (actually Samsung’s Exynos 4 Quad, also seen in the Galaxy S3), Android 4.0 and an 8-megapixel camera. It’s destined for Japan sometime later this year.

The momentum is there for Lenovo, and it’s already producing some interesting hardware, so it’s no surprise to see the following message posted on its Facebook page: “We won’t stop at laptops and tablets. For the first time, Lenovo is making plans to sell smartphones outside China.”

Introducing new hardware into the already massively competitive US and European markets isn’t going to be easy, but Lenovo knows it has little choice. Besides, it can always look at the lucrative African, Russian and South American markets initially, before hitting the rest of Europe and the US with devices such as the K860.

Lenovo hasn’t provided any further details, and we’d be surprised to see any releases this year, but it’s still a very positive step from a highly motivated company. Whether HP will respond remains to be seen.