When Lenovo announced it was dumping its American CEO and refocusing its efforts on China, one had to wonder if the company regrets its purchase of IBM. Lenovo could easily fall back on the excuse that it was a business decision. Computer sales are declining in Western markets, and while they’re slowing in China, too, the prospects are still better here. But it feels like the company is admitting defeat. As hard it tried, it can’t replace Big Blue.
I have to agree a bit there. Though, I don’t own a Lenovo laptop, I’ve talked to people who do and they tend to say that the models produced under IBM were just that little bit better. Seeing Lenovo commercials on TV – even though they ripped off Tom Hanks’ role in Castaway – didn’t really make me change my mind.
Maybe I’ve been in China too long, but I just can’t think of Lenovo as a global producer of computers. It invested millions to become the primary sponsor of the Beijing Olympics, but that didn’t make me think of Lenovo as a global brand. Instead, it felt like a Chinese brand as head sponsor for a Chinese, not global, Olympics.
It seems consumers can’t see it as a global brand either. According to the company’s 2008 interim report, for the six months ending September 30, 2008, Greater China was the source of 42% of Lenovo’s sales, with the US coming in as number two. That still doesn’t sound like a global company to me.