Finding opportunity in the region

Lenovo’s Jack Lee believes the Middle East & Africa PC market still represents a mine of opportunity; he is determined to replicate the company’s international success here and catch up with his rivals quickly

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Finding opportunity in the region Jack Lee: Lenovo’s market share isn’t yet where he wants it to be in the Middle East & Africa region, but he is determined to catch up with his rivals quickly.
By  David Ingham Published  August 28, 2012

For Jack Lee, corporate vice president, Lenovo Middle East & Africa, the MEA region represents a considerable market opportunity. From his office in Dubai Internet City, he oversees the entire Middle East plus Africa, a market that represents around 16 million PC units per year.

“Worldwide, there is a total available market, including tablets, of 461 million units every year. The biggest market in the world is China at 70 million PCs, the Middle East & Africa without Turkey is 16 million PCs,” Lee says.

“This region [Middle East & Africa] is number three or four in the world. It’s around the same as Brazil.”

Until 15 months ago, Lenovo was, by Lee’s own admission, under-represented in this vast region. At that point, Lee relocated to the Middle East and began building up the Chinese PC maker’s presence on the ground.

There are now six Lenovo offices across MEA, in Dubai, Kenya, Casablanca, Cairo, Jo’Burg and Cape Town, employing around 160 people. Lee says 80% of his time is spent on talent management and development of teams that know and understand local markets. “We are latecomers here, we really started to revitalise our business in the Middle East & Africa around 15 months ago,” says Lee.

IDC’s latest quarterly market report concluded that Lenovo is now the second best selling PC company worldwide. It shipped 12.8 million units in the second quarter of 2012, year on year growth of 25.2%. Its shipments grew in a stagnant market described as being in a ‘wait and see’ phase as the launch of Windows 8 approaches.
In the Europe, Middle East & Africa region, the picture was a little different. There, Lenovo was fifth in unit sales in the second quarter of 2012, with around 2.2 million units shipped to channels, according to IDC. Despite its lower ranking, annual unit shipments rose 63.3% year on year.

It is this kind of growth that Lee will be looking to maintain in his region going forward. “Globally, we have overtaken Acer and then Dell; we’re number one in commercial products. In this region, we’re not,” says Lee. “In nine more months, I want to be number three overall in the [Middle East & Africa] region.”

Lee acknowledges that the PC market is heavily price driven, but he does not accept the idea that a PC is just a PC. “We do fetch a premium, it is more than my black box versus your black box,” he insists.

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