Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

MORRISVILLE, N.C. – Is Lenovo, the world’s No. 4 PC maker, worried about the soaring popularity of Apple on its home turf of China?


Two stories from Bloomberg news illustrate the point remarkably well in capping recent weeks of frenetic activity for the company.

Here’s the top paragraph about Apple’s packed stories in China:

“Gao Jun arrived at the newest Apple Inc. store in Beijing 30 minutes before it opened in hopes of beating the crowd. The crowd was already there.”

iPads and iPods are all the rage.

“Absolutely staggering” results for Apple

“Revenue in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the first quarter quadrupled to $2.6 billion from a year earlier,” Bloomberg quoted Apple’s Tim Cook, a Duke MBA, who is filling in for ill CEO Steve Jobs, as saying during a Jan. 18 earnings call.

“We put enormous energy into China, and the results of that have been absolutely staggering,” he added.

Bloomberg reported further that “Those regions will contribute ‘well over half’ and possibly as much as 100 percent of Apple’s total earnings growth in the next two years, Morgan Stanley estimates.”

No wonder, then, that Lenovo is responding with its LePhone smartphone and LePad tablet.

“We have an extreme focus on the innovation of LePad and LePhone because these products will dominate the future market,” Chairman Liu Chuanzhi told Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Anyone who loses this battle will be phased out from the history of this industry.”

Lenovo just invested $175 million in stock to form a joint venture with rival NEC in japan where the two firms hope that together they can accelerate growth and become more competitive. (Read details here.)

What a fight

In other recent moves, Lenovo recently set up a business unit to focus on mobile Internet and tablet devices. The company, which bases its headquarters in Morrisville, also recently spun off a videogame console business in Beijing.

Is Liu concerned about Apple and Lenovo’s ability to respond to the threat?

“History has proved we are good at catching up with the market’s leaders,” Liu told Bloomberg. “Though Apple is winning a significant share in the Chinese market, it has not gained a clearly leading position yet. Our advantage is we know this market better.”

What a fight is looming in China.

If Apple continues to grow there, will Lenovo be distracted elsewhere just as it tops 10 percent in global market share and it makes a big deal with NEC?

Read the Apple spending store here.

Read the interview with Liu here.

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