Research firm Gartner has said that Lenovo has overtaken HP as the largest PC maker in the world
Me and my friend both bought laptops a year ago. I got a Lenovo, because it was marginally cheaper, and he got an HP, because it was better. Both were budget laptops, something near $600 (Rs 32500) back then. By the time our first year with our laptops were ending, both our devices had problems. The hinge on my laptop was broken, while the hard disk on my friend’s laptop had given out.
We both got them repaired, and now my system works fine. His has issues. The trackpad which was never great, has become very inaccurate. My trackpad works like a charm. It is a pleasure to type on my Lenovo keypad, the HP keys do not have the same ‘clicky’ feel. His sound quality is better, by I got more hard disk space with mine. On my device the battery lasts longer than his. I had advised him my friend to buy Lenovo, and a year later he conceded he should have taken my advice.
In this little anecdote, is the gist of today’s news: Lenovo has overtaken HP as the world’s largest PC maker. Truth be told, that is not as impressive an achievement as it might look on first sight. The laptop market has been racing to the bottom for years – both in terms of quality and price.
As such margins are so narrow that HP at one point wanted to sell off its PC business. This market is today facing a growing threat from tablets, and convertible devices like the Asus Transformer. Lenovo has essentially won a larger share of a shrinking market, with shrinking margins. In any case, the difference between HP sales, and Lenovo sales are marginal. While Gartner has given the crown to Lenovo, IDC says HP is still the top producer.
The feat is not in making large number of commoditized products with commoditized pricing, but in making premium products with affordable pricing. Apple makes premium products, but its pricing put Mac out of reach for most consumers. It is here that rivals have a chance, but only a narrow chance. Mac have become cheaper over the last few years. And people have more disposable incomes. Unless rivals fill in the gap, and that too soon, Apple will walk away with the largest chunk of the market in not too distant a future.
That said, it is still an achievement. When Lenovo brought out IBM’s PC business, there was a lot of scepticism on whether it would be able to keep to IBMs tradition of excellent machines. Whether consumers will trust it enough to buy its products. It was owing to these fears that for a time after the acquisition, Lenovo kept the look and feel of products that it had made under IBM essentially the same.
Now of course there is no doubt whether it can make great products. Lenovo has delivered some excellent products in the last couple of years, and it seems on track to continue in that tradition.