If the PC is dead nobody told Lenovo

Apparently we are in the post-PC era. The PC is dead. Deceased. Pining for the ffjords. Ceased to be. An ex-market.

But nobody seems to have told Lenovo. Look at the latest quarterly sales figures.

PC revenues in Western Europe fell 16% in the first quarter of 2013. PC sales at HP fell 20%. At Dell, profits from its PC business were down 60%.

Yet here’s Lenovo – sales up 15% to $34bn, profits up 34%, European shipments up 11% and market share in the region up 12%.

The Chinese giant is doing something right, something that the fading PC giants of HP and Dell seem unable to do.

There’s no disagreement that the PC market is in decline, and will have to share buyers’ cash with tablets and high-end smartphones. But there is still money to be made, and will be for some time, for those suppliers who have the necessary focus and customer understanding.

And yes, that’s a not-even-vaguely-disguised criticism of Dell and HP, both of whom have taken their eye so far off the ball that you have to wonder if they can feasibly turn around their PC businesses. Michael Dell clearly doesn’t think so, given his attempts to buy back the company and transform into an infrastructure supplier.

Lenovo also points to an early move into tablets as a factor in its growth – and it still seems incredible that neither HP nor Dell have produced a genuinely competitive product for the tablet buyer.

The IT market is rapidly diverging. It is going to be increasingly difficult to be a broad-based, do-a-bit-of-everything supplier. You will need focus, specialisation, agility – staying close to IT decision-makers and understanding their needs. Obvious, really, you’d have thought.

Dell’s future is being decided in investor arguments about whether or not to leave the stock market – a distraction the firm could do without.

HP’s future is being decided, well, slowly. CEO Meg Whitman’s “multiyear turnaround plan” is being given generous scope by investors, but it seems customers are losing patience.

The industry is reshaping itself, more big names will fall by the wayside, and the suppliers that IT leaders turn to will be very different by the end of this decade.