Score one for Lenovo.

The world’s No. 1 PC seller continues to drive up sales and market share in smartphones as part of its “PC Plus” strategy. An aggressive plan to drive growth in markets outside North America with a variety of new devices and promoted by NBA star Kobe Bryant produced 45.5 million sales in 2013. That’s nearly double the 2012 total and gives Lenovo the No. 5 spot in the industry, research firm IDC reported Monday.

Lenovo didn’t launch smartphones until 2010, and the 2013 total topped the goal of 40 million for the year as set by Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing.

The 91.7 percent increase as reported by research firm IDC on Monday lifted Lenovo to a market share of 4.5 percent, up from 3.3 percent in 2012.

And in the fourth quarter, Lenovo actually rose to fourth spot at 4.9 percent market share with 13.9 million phones shipped.

Entering 2014, Lenovo is rolling out its first LTE (long-term evolution, the fastest form of 4G wireless broadband) phone – the Vibe Z. It was unveiled at the International CES sale earlier this month. Last year, the “K” series phone as promoted by Bryant drew the big headlines.

But the company, which operates its executive headquarters in Morrisville and just last week made a $2.3 billion with IBM to grow its server business, is relatively new player in smartphones and has pushed back plans to sell devices in the United States this year.

IDC made note of the North American absence as well as the firm’s absence in Western Europe and said Lenovo could soon challenge No. 4 Huawei.

“Lenovo, despite having no presence in North America nor Western Europe, finished the quarter in the number four position. The company’s strength lies in its strong presence within key emerging markets and a well-segmented product portfolio spanning from simple, affordable smartphones to full-featured 5″ screen models. Should the company become successful at branching into more developed markets in 2014, it could challenge Huawei for the number three spot.”

Samsung, Apple Still Dominate

Samsung kept its lead over Apple in the fourth quarter. The two still lead sales overall by a wide margin with market shares of 28.8 percent and 17.9 percent respectively.

However, Samsung’s share was down from 29.1 percent a year earlier.

Apple’s share fell from 20.9 percent.

Low-cost devices helped Lenovo andHuawei  in emerging markets.

“Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume,” said Ryan Reith, program director for IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments.”

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. rounded out the top five, boosting its share to 4.6 percent from 3.8 percent.

Total Phone Shipments

Samsung also continued to lead in total mobile phone shipments in the quarter, which includes the traditional mobile devices used mainly for voice calls or texting. The South Korea-based company’s share of all mobile phone shipments slipped to 22.9 percent from 23.5 percent, IDC said. It was followed by Nokia Oyj, whose market share declined to 13 percent from 17.8 percent.

Apple ranked third in total mobile-phone shipments with a 10.4 percent share, followed by LG’s 3.8 percent and Huawei’s 3.7 percent, IDC said.

Data released  by Strategy Analytics showed Samsung posting a small gain in smartphone share for the fourth quarter. It also showed Huawei and Lenovo gaining market share and ranking among the world’s top five makers for the full year.

Samsung’s share of smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter rose to 29.6 percent from 29 percent, Strategy Analytics said in a statement.

Apple’s share declined to 17.6 percent from 22 percent while Huawei rose to 5.7 percent from 5 percent, LG gained to 4.5 percent from 4 percent, and Lenovo boosted its share to 4.7 percent from 4.2 percent, according to Strategy Analytics.

(Bloomberg news contributed to this report.)

[LENOVO ARCHIVE: Check out eight years of Lenovo stories as reported in WRALTechWire.]