Lenovo is the latest company to jump into the tablet fray with its ThinkPad and IdeaPad K1 tablets. The company also unveiled its P1 Windows 7-based tablet, but this column will only focus on the prospects for the Android models.
At first glance, the ThinkPad and K1 are quite similar, offering 10.1-inch screens, Android 3.1 and the 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2processor. However, the ThinkPad option is designed for enterprise users, while the K1 is made for consumers.
By joining the tablet space, Lenovo is now going up against Apple and the countless number of Android tablet makers out there. Now Lenovo, like all the others that came before it, will need to find a way to differentiate its products and appeal to customers who might not want to buy an iPad.
Admittedly, doing so is difficult in today’s crowded tablet space. The chances of Lenovo overcoming even the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to earn the second spot in the tablet space behind the iPad 2 are slim. But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With the right strategy and a few tweaks, Lenovo’s tablets have a chance at becoming a success.
Read on to find out what Lenovo should do to make its K1 and ThinkPad tablets successful.
1. Focus on the screen size
One of the major advantages of Lenovo’s tablets is their screen size. According to the company, both the ThinkPad tablet and the K1 offer 10.1-inch screens. The iPad 2, on the other hand, comes with just a 9.7-inch display. The difference might not be great, but in both the consumer and enterprise markets, larger screens are preferred. Lenovo must keep that in mind and make that a key component in its marketing.
2. Android 3.1 is integral to success
If Lenovo’s tablets shipped with Android 3.0, they would be failures out of the gate. But by offering Android 3.1, the tablets are on the same level as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which also runs the operating system. Google’s first foray in the tablet space with Android 3.0 was a bit of a misstep, but most critics agree that version 3.1 is a fine improvement. Lenovo should make it clear to customers that unlike some other Android tablets, its products are running the best version yet of Google’s tablet platform.
3. A clear delineation
By selling two tablets, Lenovo is putting itself in an unenviable position. Rather than simply try to make customers get excited about a single tablet, the hardware maker must try and sell two different products aimed at two separate markets. In order to be successful at that, Lenovo needs to make it abundantly clear to customers that the ThinkPad is for businesses, and the K1 is for consumers. They should also be different enough to convince a tablet buyer that they should buy two tablets, one for their home and another for the office. If they seem too similar, Lenovo’s tablets could have trouble finding a suitable marketplace.
4. Talk about pricing
According to Lenovo, it’s selling the K1 tablet for just $499 for 32GB of storage. Apple’s iPad, on the other hand, retails for $599 for the same amount of storage. The company’s 16GB model goes for $499. That is a major selling point for Lenovo. As the economy still continues to struggle to turn around, consumers looking to get a tablet want the best value for their cash. Making them aware of its K1 pricing might help Lenovo appeal to those customers.
Lenovo Must Dodge the Usual Marketing Missteps
5. Enterprise, enterprise, enterprise
The corporate world has largely been left out of the discussion on tablets. Save for the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook and the Cisco Cius, today’s tablets are designed with consumers in mind. But as a trusted enterprise PC maker, Lenovo has the unique opportunity to capitalize on the business space with its ThinkPad. If it does a good job at it, the company might be able to cement its position at the top of the enterprise market. For Lenovo, promoting its ThinkPad tablet to the enterprise might be its most important strategy decision.
6. Slim them down
One of the biggest issues with Lenovo’s tablets is their size. According to the company, its K1 tablet is 0.5 inches thick and weighs about 1.7 pounds. The company’s ThinkPad starts at 1.65 pounds. That’s not a good thing. Apple’s iPad, for example, comes in at just 0.34 inches thick and weighs 1.33 pounds. Lenovo’s devices simply seem bulky and overweight-two features consumers and enterprise users don’t like. Although the device designs are final, Lenovo needs to make a solid case for why customers should buy its bulkier options.
7. The digitizer pen is a home run
Lost amid the discussion on Lenovo’s tablets has been the company’s decision to offer an optional digitizer pen with the ThinkPad. The pen offers far more functionality for enterprise users that don’t want to rely so heavily upon their fingers to get work done. For consumers, a digitizer pen might actually be a liability. But for the corporate world, it’s an advantage. Lenovo should rely upon that advantage as much as possible as it starts promoting its devices.
8. Market them effectively
One of the biggest issues in the Android tablet market has been the general inability by vendors to promote their products effectively. Commercials promoting tablets haven’t compelled customers to buy a device, online ads have been oddly devised, and the companies seemingly don’t know who they’re targeting and why. Lenovo simply can’t fall into that trap. If the company’s tablets become successful, it will be because the firm knows how to properly market its products.
9. Focus on the extras
One of the nice things about Lenovo’s tablets is that they’re chock full of extras. The ThinkPad tablet, for example, includes an SD card slot, microUSB and USB 2.0 ports, and mini-HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output. The K1 has a MicroSD card reader and a mini HDMI connector, as well. Those are nice additions to have, and they are conspicuously missing from competing devices. Lenovo needs to place those extras at center stage.
10. Target the Apple haters
It’s a rather odd thing in the tablet space, but so far, no company has been willing to directly target Apple haters in the consumer market. In fact, most firms are trying to appeal to all consumers. The only problem is, Apple is selling boatloads of iPads, and even people that don’t swear allegiance to the company are buying its tablets. However, there are still millions around the globe that can’t stand Apple and the very thought of buying its tablets sickens them. That’s the market Lenovo should capitalize on. After all, in that space, the company doesn’t need to compete against the most dangerous alternative in the industry.