Lenovo outlines business strategy, announces new notebooks

New York (NY) - Lenovo, the new owner of the IBM ThinkPad legacy line of laptops, announced new models today - including the X41T Tablet PC and EVDO-equipped widescreen devices in titanium casing. Centering on the slogan "innovation that matters", executives from many nationalities spoke about their global strategy as well as giving an first look at the progress on the melding of the former IBM parts, products and people.

Yuanqing Yang, chairman of Lenovo was very upbeat. "We are excited about our new global company and enthusiastic about our future. Yang mentioned the fantastic growth the company has enjoyed, including opening more than 5000 retail outlets in China and elsewhere in Asia. He attributed some of this success to focusing on transaction-based customers and especially in emerging world markets.

Sounding more like Michael Dell than one of the old hidebound bureaucrats of IBM, Yang highlighted their end-to-end transaction business model, beginning with customers deciding on the product mix and being able to quickly respond to market changes with appropriate products.

Deepak Advani, SVP and chief marketing officer, spoke about the acquisition of IBM’s assets and gave it high marks. "Integration of the IBM PC division has gone really well. We have really come together and it has been an exhilarating six months." He mentioned how ThinkPad has made significant progress in customer satisfaction, reflecting their attention to it : "Customer satisfaction is the most important thing for us, and we have almost maniacal focus on it."

Peter Hortensius, SVP, WW Prod Devel and CTO described the total scope of the company, with 12 assembly plants, 3 research facilities, and six development sites (Raleigh NC, Japan, and the rest in China). Over 800 former IBMers in the R&D staff are part of the new company, almost all of the existing PC development talent. "They have been very enthusiastic and we have experienced very low attrition." He reviewed some of the accomplishments that Lenovo has brought to the table, including the first Chinese Pentium PC in 1994 and the first wireless and broadband PCs in China in 2003 and 2004

"90 percent of our growth in the US, Europe and Japan is coming from notebooks and as you know we have an incredible franchise with the Thinkpads and will continue to have a strong leadership position there," said Hortensius. He proclaimed : "We are going to make Lenovo a strong master brand." They intend to leverage their involvement with the next Olympics in Torino and Bejing, existing IBM partnerships and new product announcements.

"Torino is going to be the coming out party for Lenovo," said Philippe Davy, VP Marketing, and head of their Olympics effort. The company will provide game systems, Internet cafes, and other gear to run the IT part of the Olympics, as IBM has done in past games. The company will have up to 60 staffers in place before the games begin there and will support early winter sports trials held in the city this year for hockey and speed skating events to prove their systems.

As a direct product of Lenovo’s acquisition, the first Thinkpad tablet PC is now shipping. Called the X41T, it was announced in June and is one of the lightest tablet PCs on the market.

"You’ll see more like this going forward," said Hortensius. "Our next major technology is widescreen notebooks." They announced their Z-series, the first full widescreen, offering 14- and 15" screens along with built in EVDO broadband wireless support and titanium covers. The Lenovo executives also reviewed specialty software that is included in their notebooks for client security, rescue and recovery.

Taking a page from car design, the new ThinkPads have a roll cage inner frame that protects the innards while strengthening the rest of the system, like a roll bar does for high-performance cars.

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