It is a Friday night in one of downtown Beijing’s swankiest restaurants and Yang Yuanqing is moving nimbly from table to table, engaging guests with conversation on everything from China’s new-found appreciation for red wine to what it is like running the world’s largest computer company.
As chairman and CEO of Lenovo, 48-year old Yuanqing is at the helm of a $30bn-a-year business, or one roughly the size of American Express.
He has good reason for feeling convivial. Just recently Lenovo overtook US tech behemoth Hewlett-Packard to become the biggest player in the PC market. Figures from IT analyst firm Gartner show that Lenovo now ships more than 13 million computers per quarter, helping the firm to corner a more than fifteen percent global market share. Today, Lenovo is number one in five of the world’s seven top PC markets.
These statistics mark the latest milestone in the quite astonishing ascent of a company founded less than 30 years ago in a ramshackle Beijing garage.
In its formative years, Lenovo specialised in making technology that allowed users to type in Chinese on English-language keyboards, before moving into making desktop PCs proper. In 1994, the company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, but the firm was largely unheard of in the West until 2005, when it snapped up IBM’s PC-making unit in a controversial $1.75bn buyout.
Today, Lenovo’s business is heavily dependent on in its expertise in marketing and selling desktop and laptop PCs to both consumers and businesses worldwide. According to the company’s latest set of quarterly financial results, PCs accounted for 82 percent of the group’s total revenue.
Perhaps troublingly though, Gartner data shows that while Lenovo may be the world’s top PC maker, the industry as a whole shrank by eight percent in the last twelve months.
Given both of these observations, is Yuanqing anxious about future growth? Putting it bluntly, no.
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