Apple passes Lenovo in Chinese sales revenue

Apple Store Sanlitun in Beijing, China

Apple (s aapl) has been showing strong growth in greater China in recent quarterly reports, including a sixfold increase in year-over-year revenue in the company’s third quarter. In its most recent investor call, Apple reported its total sales revenue in the region as $3.8 billion. Now it looks like Apple is even beating a longtime regional heavyweight for the first time, as Lenovo saw just $2.8 billion in sales (via FT) during its most recent financial quarter.

Lenovo still grew 23.4 percent compared to its business a year ago, and it remains the third-biggest PC maker worldwide by shipment volume (and the largest in China for eleven years running). But Apple pushed past it, due in large part to strong iPhone and iPad sales, which are doing much better than Lenovo’s Android-based LePad tablet and smartphone lineup. Note that Lenovo actually originally sold off its smartphone business in 2008, only to buy it back in 2010, which gave the iPhone a considerable head start in securing a beachhead for Apple. Also, Apple’s iPhone presence in China could get even stronger when China Mobile starts selling the Apple device.

China is a key market for Apple going forward, as it continues to grow in terms of consumer buying power on the world stage. Chinese consumers seem to be gaining confidence, especially when it comes to luxury goods, and Apple is perceived as a luxury brand there perhaps more than anywhere else in the developed world. That means Apple is in a good position to continue to capture market share away from competitors as Chinese spending power increases.

It’s a small but significant milestone as Apple continues to grow its business in markets that hold a lot of future growth potential. It will be interesting to see how that is affected by the release of the iPhone 5 and other upcoming devices, including ones that remain speculative, like the low-cost or prepaid iPhone.