Tag: lenovo

Industry experts talk up R2B, R2D2

highA group of executives behind the Retail to Business (R2B) initiative is warning retailers that they could be in a world of trouble if they don’t start targeting businesses.

The R2B initiative was formed by Context and it’s backed by execs from Lenovo, AMD, Lexmark, Tech Data and other companies. The ultimate goal is to make retailers more competitive and capable of taking on B2B resellers.

“Let’s stop the decline – or stores will end up being showrooms,” Global MD for Retail at Context Adam Simon told PCR. “Don’t just focus on consumers and tablets – blur the consumer and SMB. Support the small business people and their entourage.”

The consumerisation of IT and trends like BYOD is already blurring the line between SMBs and average people. Context argues British retailers could learn a thing or two from telecoms who have dedicated in-store corners in their shops for business users. Germany is also setting an interesting example, as its retailers are already selling heaps of laptops to businesses.

Microsoft is damaged – report

Windows 8.1 is unlikely to save Microsoft’s bacon and slowness in delivering an adequate OS has damaged its reputation, a report suggests.

According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, unnamed sources in the supply chain are suggesting that there will be little or no improvement in the PC market not only this year, but into next year too.

It isn’t all Microsoft’s fault, however.  Sales of PCs are in decline because people are using tablets and smartphones more.

Even though the unnamed sources think that things are looking gloomy, nevertheless a number of vendors including HP, Lenovo, Acer and Asustek are introducing devices tailored to Windows 8.1, says Digitimes, here.

PC market continues to be weak

IDC graphIDC released figures estimating that worldwide PC shipments accounted for 81.6 million units in Q3 of 2013 – that’s a drop of 7.6 percent, compared to the previous year.

But IDC said it had expected a decline of 9.5 percent for the quarter.  It said that shipments were weak in the early part of the quarter but business buys and channel intake of Windows 8.1 based systems happened in September.

IDC said emerging markets continued to be weak, while the channel and vendors were stock heavy on Ivy Bridge systems and eroded by lower priced smartphones and tablets.

Upgrades from Windows XP boosted shipments in the enterprise desktop section.

Rajani Singh, senior research analyst at IDC, said that the US market hasn’t changed that much. There may be a small increase in the fourth quarter, he said. But that will be followed “by a challenging 2014”.

In EMEA the PC market continued to decline with weak consumer demand a shift to tablets.  The channel maintained lean inventories during the period.

The only bright light were “pockets of investments” despite companies still being reluctant to spend any money.

Lenovo is the top vendor and is expanding into the channel, while HP and Dell were numbers two and three.  Acer and Asus both were weakened by lack of spend by consumers. Asus doesn’t have a significant corporate user base.

Lenovo “at crossroads” in servers

lenovo_hqA report from Patrick Moorhead’s Moor Insights & Strategy has asserted that, although the server market is dominated by Dell, HP and IBM at present, Lenovo is well positioned to break out of the “other” category and start making a serious dent in market share.

Players like Cisco and Fujitsu, 4th and 5th in the server market respectively, could even be overtaken by Lenovo in the near future. But it has some hurdles to leap and if it is to do so, Lenovo will have to prioritise servers.

Looking at Lenovo’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT), it’s clear the company can compete on price and has a robust supply chain behind it. The company is leading in the growing China market, performing well with SMBs, and there remains a perceived tie with IBM when Big Blue sold off a chunk of its hardware.

However, Lenovo doesn’t offer cloud services or a complete product line outside of its home turf and is somewhat lacking on the ineternational enterprise stage. It has no small core direction, according to Moor Insights, a weak storage offering, and no apparent network switch or fabric offering.

Moor Insights & Strategy believes Lenovo will have the opportunity, although not without challenges, to pick up IBM’s x86 server business, which could address some of the above concerns. There is also a window for Lenovo to expand its SMB offerings within EMEA, particularly western Europe, where small to medium businesses are highly concentrated.

If Lenovo decided to buy IBM’s x86 business, Moor thinks it’s likely it’d go for the whole lot, while IBM could minimise damage to its own bottom line by maintaining blade IP, which it could then license to Lenovo. An acquisition would propel Lenovo to #3 in the server charts, way ahead of Fujitsu and Cisco, but the buy would have to be twinned with serious efforts to maintain previous IBM customers to prevent seduction over to rivals like HP or Dell.

Moor Insights suggests Lenovo focus on the cloud, where it is underrepresented, as well as building a portfolio it can extend to the large business market.  It must also underline its “message” – although it’s understood Lenovo performs well in client devices, the message is “not translating in the server market,” according to Moor. Lenovo needs to reinforce its position to potential enterprise customers.

Lenovo, the report says, is “at an interesting crossroads in the server market”. While there is ample opportunity for the company to really cement its position and overtake some of the competition, it will need to invest heavily.

“Lenovo has an opportunity to break out of its position and quickly move up in the market, as well it remains a company that could disrupt the market the way that Dell did years ago. But in order to do that, it needs to get into the market in a serious way,” the report concludes.

Cheap tablets are getting even cheaper

cheap-tabletsNow that even grocers are targeting the 7-inch tablet segment, the dog eat dog of cheap tablets is getting even more brutal. Chinese white-box players are further cutting their prices, according to channel sources cited by Digitimes.

A quick glance at tablet prices in the UK and the continent reveals that there are already heaps of tablets priced at £99 or less, with some truly cheap models going for as little as £49.

What’s more, some big vendors like Asus, Acer and Lenovo also have products at or close to the £99 mark and let’s not forget Tesco’s impressive Hudl, which is priced at £119 yet it features a much better screen than similarly priced tablets.

Google and Amazon had a thing or two to do with this trend. The Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 series of tablets reinvented the £199 space last year, so quite a few companies introduced similar products and similar price points. As a result, the white-box crowd has no choice but to run for the hills, or in this case for the bargain bin.

This doesn’t appear to bode well for big brands. It was recently reported that Google was forced to slash orders for the second generation Nexus 7 due to soft demand. People who want cheap tablets seem to be going after even cheaper models and the £/$199 price point is now practically reserved for high-end 7-inch tablets.

In addition, the market share of small white-box outfits is going up, from 26 percent in Q2 2012 to 39 percent in Q2 2013. The top five brands are losing share, but if the prices of entry level Asus, Acer and Lenovo tablets are anything to go by – they are not far behind in the race to the bottom.

Good Technology VP heads to Symantec

symanteclogoGood Technology’s VP and GM Huw Owen has been snapped up and appointed to VP sales and marketing for EMEA at Symantec.

Previously overseeing Good’s channel growth in Europe and introducing the firm to the Nordics, Benelux and the Middle East, Symantec has snapped him up to win and retain customers as well as growing in all regions across EMEA.

Owen has been named twice in Global Telecoms Business’ Top 40 Under 40 for telecoms, globally, and has been quoted regularly offering comment on mobility.

Before his time at Good, Owen was executive director at Lenovo’s EMEA team, where he helped in servicing and sales in EMEA and globally. He has also held positions at Veritas and Fujitsu, and served as senior director of EMEA northern region services at Symantec.

Commenting on his return to Symantec, Owen said the opportunities at Symantec are “huge”.

“The EMEA region is a key area of focus for Symantec, contributing significantly to the global company revenues,” Owen said.

Matthew Ellard, senior vice president EMEA, Symantec, said: “Huw has an exceptional amount of knowledge in the channel sector which will be of tremendous value”.

Notebook display panel shipments down, down, down

dell-latitude-7000-330pxShipments of LCD panels for notebooks dropped 23 percent in July year-on-year, according to new data from IHS. Eight out of the nine leading PC vendors cut their LCD shipments and total shipments were just 1.49 million units, down from 19.3 million in July 2012. Worse, shipments were down 18 percent sequentially.

The sharp drop can be in part attributed to seasonal trends, but there were a few other factors as well. Demand for new Haswell-based deigns remains soft and the fact that many people are still waiting for Windows 8.1 did not help, either. All this resulted in some inventory problems.

“Notebook brands during the third quarter typically increase their purchases of LCD panels as they prepare to launch new mobile PC models for the second half of the year,” said Ricky Park, senior manager for large-area displays at IHS. “However, many key brands this year have accumulated large panel inventory surpluses because of weak sales in the first half. This has caused them to reduce purchases in July, leading to major declines in notebook PC panel market shipments both on a sequential and an annual basis.”

Many notebook makers are still sitting on heaps of old displays and they are clearly having a hard time getting rid of them. Acer’s panel orders dropped 53 percent in June, Toshiba was down 43 percent and even mighty Lenovo experienced a 35 percent drop. It did not get any better in July.

IHS expects to see some positive figures in August, as the market should return to sequential growth, but on-year figures won’t look good.

Lenovo aims to topple HP by 2015

lenovo-logoLenovo has been going from strength to strength in recent months and now it has Hewlett Packard in its crosshairs. Lenovo believes there’s plenty of room for expansion in EMEA, in spite of Europe’s economic woes and Syria’s feeble attempts to become the Archduke Ferdinand of World War III.

Speaking at IFA 2013, Lenovo’s EMEA president Gianfranco Lanci said the company’s ultimate goal is to become number one in the region within the next 18 months. He added that there are still big growth opportunities on PCs and there’s still room to grow.

Meanwhile, HP is losing market share to Lenovo, while Lenovo has already overtaken Acer in EMEA. Lenovo’s PC business is doing surprisingly well at a time when many other PC vendors are faltering on all levels. In addition, Lenovo’s smartphone push is paying off nicely in Asia and next year it could bring its Android terracotta army to Europe and North America. Lenovo is also becoming a big name in Android tablets, but so far Android tablets have failed to match the success of their smartphone siblings.

“The investment needed in the smartphone and tablet businesses is much more than what you need in PCs – this is why we will see more consolidation,” Lanci said.

He argued that scale is necessary to successfully compete in the smartphone market and with skyrocketing phone shipments in China, Lenovo shouldn’t have much trouble with scale.

Lanci added that all three Lenovo divisions are making money, but the PC division is still generating higher margins as PCs don’t require nearly as much investment as smartphones and tablets. It may be interesting to note that Lenovo is making some rather interesting moves on the hybrid front as well. As hybrids and tablets converge, Lenovo will end up in a much better position than some competitors without a viable tablet/hybrid strategy. Provided all goes well, of course.

Notebook shipments ramp in rollercoaster ride

ancient-laptopNotebook shipments appear to be recovering, albeit slightly, after several consecutive quarters of unparalleled awfulness. We are quite used to hideous numbers by now, but Digitimes Research  is reporting that notebook shipments of the top five brands grew by 22 percent, while the top three ODMs saw 11 percent of growth in August, compared to July.

HP saw the most growth, up 50 percent, while Lenovo and Acer saw their shipments grow by 25 and 20 percent respectively. Asus shipments dropped, while Dell’s appear to be stagnating.

Wistron outperformed other ODMs with 20 percent on-month growth in August, thanks to strong shipments from HP and Lenovo. Quanta and Inventec grew by more than 10 percent, Compal was saw some single-digit growth, while Pegatron’s shipments dropped due to lower orders from Asus.

A word of caution is advised. The upsurge has a lot more to do with seasonal trends than actual end-user demand. The notebook market still remains very weak and soft demand is expected over the next few quarters, if not years.

Acer denies merger rumours

acer-logo-ceAcer has shot down rumours of a possible merger with Asus or Lenovo. The rumours originated in some Asian outlets, which claimed that certain investment banks planned to invite Lenovo or Asus to merge with Acer.

Acer said it was not contacted by any investment bank with such a proposal and that wouldn’t be interested anyway, reports Digitimes. It’s easy to see why such a rumour would take off. Acer is in trouble like most PC vendors, except Lenovo. Consolidation might be the next step for some vendors, but Acer insists it will soldier on alone.

The company says it reforming and that it’s confident its brand and business can weather the storm. However, recent sales figures indicate that both Acer and Asus suffered the biggest drop in PC sales this year compared to other PC outfits.

Acer is down, but it’s not out. It still builds some interesting PCs and its aggressively pursuing tablet and smartphone markets, although they are already saturated and as a result it is bound to face stiff competition in all emerging segments.

Apple and Samsung lose ground on tablets

cheap-tabletsApple is losing ground on the tablet market, due to a drought of new products and more competition from the Android camp. However, Samsung is not capitalising on Apple’s woes and its sales are dropping as well.

According to Strategy Analytics, Apple sold just 14.6 million iPads last quarter, down 4.9 million from Q1. Its market share tumbled from 40.4 percent to 29.2 percent. Meanwhile its arch nemesis Samsung also suffered a hit. Its sales dropped by 700,000 units to 8.4 million units and its market share now stands at 8.4 percent.

Another report from Analysys claims that tablet sales in China aren’t growing nearly as rapidly as they did just a few months ago. Last quarter China gobbled up 3.58 million tablets, growing just 5.2 percent over the first quarter of 2013. Sales of Apple’s iPads were particularly hard hit, the research outfit reported.

Relative newcomers to the market like Acer, Lenovo, Sony and Dell are gaining ground. LG is gearing up to give tablets another go, following a dismal effort a couple of years ago. Then there are Chinese white-box tablets, heaps and heaps of them.

However, Cupertino’s troubles might be a thing of the past come Q4. The Church of Apple is widely expected to introduce new iPads as soon as next month and the hot iPad mini should get a Retina makeover. Apple’s current tablet offerings are showing signs of age and an update is overdue.

On the other hand, there’s really not that much hype this time around, iPads aren’t as fresh and cool as they used to be and getting people to upgrade from an iPad 3 or 4 won’t be as easy. They both have relatively speedy chips and a crisp high-resolution screen, so Apple will have to get creative, and it’s been faltering on that front for the last two or so years.

The iPad mini though desperately needs a sharper screen and a faster processor and a new high-res model should do very well indeed.

Lenovo cooks up BYOD for channel

lenovo-logoLenovo wants to tap the BYOD trend with a new demo kit, offered to its channel partners and customers. The new “Combat Kit” aims to make BYOD simpler and less challenging. It could also reduce the suicide rate among IT specialists in charge of sorting out the mess that is BYOD.

The kit features several Lenovo devices, mostly tablets and hybrids. Partners can pick the ones that best suits their needs and hand them out to end users, reports CRN. The kit includes the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, ThinkPad Helix, ThinkPad Twist and the ThinkPad Tablet 2.

Lenovo brand ambassador Stephen Miller said the sales cycle is changing. In the past, companies would buy ten computers and every end user got the exact same one. With the consumerization of IT, the old one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

“Now it’s difficult. Everybody wants a different device,” said Miller. “You have confusion around what to sell, and end users don’t know what to buy because of the paradox of choice.”

The kit would effectively allow users choose the device that works best for them. Miller said end users can get a hands on experience, and then partners can sell the device that the end users actually want. There seems to be a lot of interest in the kit and there’s already a waiting list, but Miller said partners should still sign up.

Foxconn starts selling TVs

foxconn-tvFoxconn may be about to diversify and try its luck in the smartphone and tablet business, under its own brand. The company has been building iPhones, iPads and a range of other products for years and now it’s selling smart TVs, with a bit of help from 7-Eleven Taiwan.

Foxconn launched its TV assembly business in 2008 and it has expanded it in recent years with the acquisition of manufacturing facilities from Sony. It also bought a 50 percent stake in Sharp’s panel making plant in Japan, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Shoppers in Taiwan can already buy a range of Foxconn tellies and with gaudy ads like this one for a 40-inch smart TV, who could resist? However, the big news is that Foxconn may be about to launch smartphones and tablets of its own, or through some sort of deal with 7-Eleven.

This is not good news for Chinese white-box outfits. They have been performing quite well recently and demand for white-box smartphones and tablets is quite strong, often outstripping growth reported by big brands. If Foxconn enters the fray, the white-box crowd will face a lot more competition.

Foxconn has a lot of experience and capacity second to none, but it doesn’t actually make any crucial components used in smartphone or tablets. This is true of most smartphone outfits except Samsung.

There is no shortage of high resolution panels, cheap application processors, cameras or batteries. Depending on volume Foxconn could get much better prices than small white-box companies. However, it is still unclear whether Foxconn’s push will be limited to the 7 Eleven deal, or whether it will spread to other markets.

The company certainly has the muscle to pull off a global rollout, but this might not be necessary, at least not for now. Foxconn could instead choose to target a handful of emerging markets like China, markets that are not very saturated and that tend to scoop up white-box phones. The exact same markets Lenovo is gunning for. Such an approach could give Foxconn a foothold in the mobile industry through a back door, as it wouldn’t have to go head to head with Samsung or Apple.

Smartphones overtake feature phones

smartphones-genericSmartphone sales are up again, but growth is slowing. The worldwide market gobbled up 435 million phones in the second quarter, up 3.6 percent over the same period last year. However, worldwide smartphone sales have now reached 225 million units, up 46.5 percent from a year ago.

It was only a matter of time before smartphone shipments outpaced feature phone shipments and according to Gartner, this happened last quarter. Feature phone, or dumb phone shipments totalled just 210 million units, down 21 percent year-on-year.

“Smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales in the second quarter of 2013, resulting in smartphone sales surpassing feature phone sales for the first time,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe exhibited the highest smartphone growth rates of 74.1 percent, 55.7 percent and 31.6 percent respectively, as smartphone sales grew in all regions.

Samsung still reigns supreme, with 71.4 million units shipped last quarter and a 31.7 percent market share. Apple ranks second with 31.9 million units, but it is losing market share fast. LG and Lenovo had a very good quarter, shipping 11.5 and 10.6 million smartphones respectively. ZTE ranked fifth with 9.7 million units. Nokia, HTC, Blackberry and Sony are no longer in the top five. However, the top five vendors accounted for just 60 percent of the market, while 40 percent went to smaller outfits, including an ever increasing number of Chinese white-box manufacturers.

gartner-smartphones-august2013

Gartner found that much of Samsung’s demand is now coming from mid-tier products and high-end devices with ASPs up to $400. It concluded that Samsung needs to do more to make its mid-range offering more appealing.  Oddly enough Apple also saw a dip in ASP, which is currently at the lowest level since 2007. This is the result of surprising strong sales of the iPhone 4 in some markets. Apple has recognized the trend and it plans to introduce a new, cheaper iPhone next month.

But Lenovo is the name to look out for. It’s making a killing in the dreary PC market and it’s doing even better in smartphones, although much of its effort goes unnoticed in the west. Lenovo almost doubled its share over the last 12 months and the company plans to bring its smartphones to western markets soon, possibly even next year.

Android remains the dominant operating system, with a 79 percent share, up from 64.2 percent a year ago. Apple’s iOS ranks second with a 14.2 percent share, down from 18.8 percent in Q2 2012. Microsoft gained some ground, but Windows Phone 8 still has a tiny share, 3.3 percent, up from 2.6 percent last year. Blackberry’s share halved to 2.7 percent and the Canadian company is now looking for a buyer. As with all things Blackberry, the decision comes three years too late.

Lenovo gains on Apple – report

pc-sales-slumpMore good news for Lenovo. According to a company called Canalys, Apple has lost ground to Lenovo on the back of lacklustre iPad sales in Q2.

It is worth noting that Canalys includes tablets in its quarterly PC market reports. Therefore it found that Android now has a 17 percent share in the PC market.

Although tablet sales appear to be slowing down while some people wait for new fruity toys “Designed in California”, Canalys reckons tablets will outsell notebooks by the fourth quarter of 2013. This is in line with previous reports from other research firms.

PC shipments in EMEA fell  year-on-year in Q2, the first decline after two successive quarters of double-digit growth. Western Europe was down 10 percent, while Central and Eastern Europe took a three  percent plunge.

canalys-PCreport-Q213

Demand for smartphones and tablets is increasing around the world. However, faced by a changing industry, channel partners are exercising caution when planning and placing orders. Apple kept the lead in Q2, with 18.6 million units shipped and a 17.1 percent market share. However, it lost two percent from Q2 2012. Lenovo upped its share to 12.9 percent and shipped 14.1 million units. HP lost share and volume and it’s in third spot with 12.7 million units and an 11.6 percent share.

It should be noted that desktop and notebook shipments accounted for about 20 percent of Apple’s total shipments. Samsung also made its way into the top five, with 10.8 million units and a 9.9 percent share, but, like Apple, most of its shipments were tablets, not proper PCs.

Canalys found that most vendors are seeing increased tablet volumes, but that won’t help traditional PC outfits. Volumes are one thing, but most tablets coming out of Lenovo, HP and the rest of the PC gang are on the cheap side, with relatively low ASPs.