Lenovo North American Channel Chief Sammy Kinlaw said the vendor plans to invest in the non-Chrome areas of its personal computing business to better drive profitable growth.
"You can't keep these flat lights on and pay salaries selling Chrome," Kinlaw told the nearly 500 people attending Tech Data's Channel Link event on Thursday. "We're going to continue selling Chrome as an accommodation factor, but it's not a huge priority."
Unit sales growth in the Lenovo business group that includes Chrome has greatly outpaced the division's revenue growth, Kinlaw said at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
Kinlaw said Lenovo's North American channel had seen a 20 percent year-over-year increase in units sold through its TopSeller division – which includes pre-configured products such as Chromebooks – but just a 10.5 percent increase in the division's revenue.
"I'm all about selling more units year-over-year," Kinlaw said. "But what's more important to us as a company right now is revenue growth."
Lenovo's personal computing division therefore plans to focus more heavily on selling premium laptops, Workstations, desktops and services through its channel partners, according to Kinlaw.
"Is Lenovo moving away from Chrome? No," Kinlaw said. "But we're doubling down in investments in other parts of the business."
Kinlaw praised Chrome for opening doors by providing a platform for ancillary product revenue as well as an upside for additional services that can be jointly sold between the vendor and its channel partners. He said Chrome has been an "explosion" for Lenovo for two years running.
"We want that [Chrome] business; we don't want that business to leave us," Kinlaw said. "But you can't just sell Chrome."
Lenovo now enjoys 15 percent PC market share in North America, Kinlaw said, putting the company in a solid third place. The company had PC market share of just 3 percent in the region in 2010, Kinlaw said, and has seen its market share grow by roughly two percentage points each year.
Lenovo is looking to notch 20 percent PC market share in North America to get the region closer to its worldwide figure of 22 percent, Kinlaw said.