Lenovo Eyes Consumers with New Desktop

While the market for desktops continues to fall, Lenovo is looking to make inroads in the U.S. consumer market to go with its business-class PC efforts.

Lenovo is taking another crack at the U.S. consumer market with a new desktop.

In what the company heralds as its first "global entry into the consumer desktop market outside of China," Lenovo began selling the IdeaCentre K210 desktop officially on June 30.

Lenovo, which bought IBM's PC division in 2004, already owns a significant part of the enterprise market with its ThinkPad notebooks and ThinkCentre desktops, but the company signaled in the beginning of 2008 that it wanted to grab a bigger slice of the consumer market, especially in the United States. To kick this strategy off, Lenovo caused a good deal of buzz at CES in January when it rolled out the first of its IdeaPad notebooks for consumers.

While there has been concern about the effect the slowing U.S. economy will have on enterprise hardware spending,the PC market looks fairly robust so far, with several research firms calling for double-digit growth this year. What is keeping the market afloat is consumer spending on PCs, especially notebooks, and in the United States that has benefited Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Apple.

By offering a consumer desktop, Lenovo is trying to get its own piece of the consumer market, but it's taking a risk.

While the consumer market remains profitable, the numbers have been driven by notebooks sales, not desktop shipments. While desktop shipments outside the United States are expected to grow in 2008, IDC found that shipments of desktop PCs will fall 4.6 percent this year and that trend will continue through 2012. At the same time, notebook shipments, both consumer and commercial, will grow by double digits during the next four years.

The move away from desktops has become so pronounced that Michael Dell, whose company built its reputation on desktops, said earlier in 2008 that the company would invest more in notebooks and move desktop manufacturing overseas.

However, Lenovo is one of the main sponsors of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the company has put a great of market muscle behind the game in order to increase its recognition.

Besides consumers, Lenovo might also be positioning its IdeaCentre and IdeaPad as an alternative for the small and midsize business market. WhileLenovo introduced its 3000 line for SMBs several years ago, the company has remained rather silent about those low-cost models during the past several months and seems ready to jettison the 3000 line in favor of IdeaCentre and IdeaPad.

Lenovo is also preparing to offer a low-cost ThinkPad notebook line called SL.

With the IdeaCentre K210, Lenovo is offering a choice of several Intel processors, including the chip maker's Core 2 Quad Q6700 (2.6GHz) or the Q6600 (2.4GHz). Both processors are manufactured on Intel's older 65-nanometer process and have 8MB of Level 2 cache and a 1066MHz front side bus.

The IdeaCentre K210 desktop also has an integrated Intel GMA3100 graphics chip and the PC can be upgraded to an ATI Radeon 2600 XT graphics card. The desktop also offers some of Lenovo's more cutting-edge features such as VeriFace Face Recognition, a facial recognition feature intended to eliminate the need for passwords and other log-ins.

The starting price for the IdeaCentre K210 desktop is $379, and Lenovo is offering a choice of either a 19-inch or 22-inch display.