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Can Apple Prevent Lenovo from Becoming the Top PC Maker?

2013 could be the year that ends HP's reign as the largest PC maker in the world say industry analysts. Given its current growth, Lenovo seems poised to take over the mantle of the new number one.

According to Gartner, Lenovo grew its shipments by 14.9 percent to 12.8 million units, giving itself a 14.7 percent market share and moving closer to taking the top position in PC shipments from HP, Gartner said. "If the current trends for both companies continue, Lenovo should surpass HP in Q3 or Q4," Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT said to Computerworld.

Despite promising figures, it will still not be easy for Lenovo to surpass HP. The question, however, is even if it does, will defeating HP really make Lenovo the number one PC seller? More succinctly, is HP really the biggest PC maker in the world? And if not, then who is?

Tablet King Apple

There has been a paradigm change in the PC market. Call it a post-PC era or a PC+ time, the fact is that today you cannot ignore mobile computing devices. Research firms such as Gartner and IDC have been vocal on the impact mobile devices have on PC sales. In one of its reports, Gartner states that tablets and smartphones are continuously eating away at worldwide PC shipments. "Consumers are spending less on traditional PCs and more on smartphones and tablets," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in a statement.

Tablets are still not included in the PC shipments, and on including these mobile computing devices in the PC shipment, Apple is a threat to any traditional PC vendor. Apple has already challenged the top positioned in past. Last December, a research firm, Canalys, stormed the industry by its announcement of Apple overtaking HP as the largest supplier of PCs in the global market. HP pulled its socks up to regain the top position and soon defeated Apple to retake the lead in the worldwide client PC market in Q1 2012. But it is not in the clear yet.

Apple rules the tablet market, and with the launch of iPad Mini, the reign is all set to continue. Tablet or smart phones are the top choices of most of the enterprise executives. According to iSuppli forecast, Apple's tablets would account for 61% of the market for 2012. CIOs prefer to buy Apple for their BYOD plans, hence, this American MNC is now a first choice of most of the CIOs.

Forrester predicts that CIOs will pour US$19 billion into Apple products in 2012 -- $10 billion in iPads, $9 billion in Macs. This is up from around $12 billion last year. By 2013, CIOs will spend $16 billion in iPads and $12 billion in Macs, according to Forrester.

Fight the Future

The proliferation of tablet has changed the entire PC market dynamics. It is not just the traditional PC market that Lenovo has to conquer. It has to make a strong presence felt in the large mobile market too as days go by.

It is not that Lenovo is not making efforts to deliver more in the mobile PC arena. Its Ultrabook is well accepted in the market and has recently launched the LePad tablet. However, with its strengths primarily in the dwindling traditional PC market, its ability to compete in the tablet space is under question.

Then again, despite soaring stock prices in a downturn market, Lenovo's profit margins have suffered in its bid to be the biggest PC maker.

HP managed to wrest back its number one position from Apple when the flood-disrupted PC sales came back to normal, thanks to its position as long-time market leader. Whether Lenovo would be able to replicate HP's success remains to be seen.

The million dollar question, however, is whether the LePad would be able to beat back the iPad at its own game. And can Lenovo do so when it is busy trying to fend off the mammoth HP?


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