BEIJING - Lenovo Group Ltd - the world's largest personal computer manufacturer - has recently acquired a new title.
The company successfully made a foray into the global smartphone market and became the third-largest smartphone maker in the third quarter of the year, according to a Gartner Inc report.
Lenovo surpassed South Korea-based LG Electronics Inc to become the world's third-biggest smartphone vendor in the quarter ended Sept 30, according to research firm Gartner. This is the best position for Lenovo since the company focused on the smartphone business in 2009.
The Beijing-based Lenovo shipped 12.9 million smartphones - representing a 5.1 per cent share of the global smartphone market - in the third quarter, Gartner said in a mobile phone industry report. Lenovo's quarterly smartphone sales rose 84.5 per cent year-on-year.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc are still the top-two industry players, after selling 80.4 million and 30.3 million smartphones, respectively, in the same period.
Lenovo also moved up the ranks to the No 7 spot in the more general global mobile phone market.
"Lenovo continues to rely heavily on its home market, which represents more than 95 per cent of its overall mobile phone sales. This could limit its growth after 2014, when the Chinese market is expected to decelerate," said Anshul Gupta, a research analyst at Gartner.
Lenovo, already the world's top PC maker, announced plans to expand in the mobile phone sector only about three years ago. In 2008, the company sold its mobile business to "concentrate on the PC sector" but bought it back a year later.
Liu Jun, senior vice-president of the company, said in a previous interview that Lenovo is the smartphone brand with the fastest growth rate worldwide.
"Lenovo will enter 30 more emerging countries by the end of the year. By then, the company will have realised its goal of covering 80 per cent of emerging markets worldwide," Liu said.
More meaningful moves are in store for the first half of next year, when Lenovo plans to introduce its smartphones to mature markets such as the United States and Europe, Liu said.
According to Sino Market Research, Lenovo has been the second-largest smartphone vendor in the domestic market for 16 consecutive months, behind Samsung. Lenovo aims to become the top smartphone player in China within two years, according to Liu.
Li Yanyan, an analyst with research firm Analysys International, pointed out that "Lenovo's close ties to Chinese telecom operators have been a major reason for its success in the domestic market."
In a new marketing campaign, Lenovo invited National Basketball Association star Kobe Bryant on stage this year to promote its flagship smartphone products.
Earlier this month, the company reported a higher-than-expected second-quarter profit boosted by growing sales in the smartphone and tablet markets.
Its net profit stood at US$220 million (S$274.2 million) in the quarter ended in September, up 36 per cent year-on-year. A sales increase in emerging mobile devices was one of the major contributors for its business growth.
Yang Yuanqing, chairman and chief executive officer of Lenovo, said the company has sold more mobile devices than personal computers over the past months. Lenovo's consumer electronics unit, which includes its smartphone and tablet product lines, contributed US$1.5 billion in revenue.