Lenovo Goes for the Gold

Lenovo executives say the PC maker is looking to combine marketing with sleek products to grow its business, while fending off Dell and HP.

Lenovo plans to equip its notebooks with a roll cage, in a small step toward its larger goal of becoming a bigger player in the world PC market.

The PC maker, whose executives on Tuesday briefed reporters on its progress since acquiring IBMs PC group in May, has designed a magnesium alloy skeleton to stiffen its forthcoming ThinkPad Z Series internally, helping the model line to better survive falls, bumps and other shocks.

The frame, dubbed roll cage, is largely invisible to ThinkPad owners. However, it personifies what Lenovo Group executives call "the new Lenovo."

Going forward, the company aims to avoid bumps by having picked the best elements of IBM and the best of the old Lenovo, creating a new entity whose focus on design and innovation, including coming to market with features like roll cage, and focus on customer service allows it to compete with Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., the worlds largest PC makers.

Ultimately, it seeks to upend the current PC market hierarchy—dominated by Dell and HP—giving it a shot at the top.

"In five years I expect the new Lenovo to become the most successful PC company and the most recognized brand in the computer world," Yuanqing Yang, Lenovos chairman, told attendees.

The event, held in New York City, was also made available via a Webcast.

The Z Series, a new line of widescreen ThinkPads aimed at the SMB (small and midsize business) market, is one of the first products from the new Lenovo.

The machine, which comes with the roll cage as well as cellular-based, built-in broadband wireless, was designed to appeal to SMBs, bolstering Lenovo in an area where it traditionally hasnt been as strong.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about how the Z Series fits into Lenovos future plans.

"Why does innovation mater?" asked Peter Hortensius, Lenovos senior vice president of worldwide product development. When "you can drop your Lenovo notebook and you can continue working and the other guy cant—thats innovation that matters."

Roll cage wont only stiffen up the Z Series, Lenovo hopes. The feature, which will be added to all of its ThinkPads in the future, fits into a broader plan aimed at bolstering the Lenovo brand by introducing features that make its products more desirable.

The company will combine high-profile marketing alongside sleek products in an effort to maintain its corporate accounts in markets such as the United States and simultaneously expand its presence in the SMB space and in emerging markets throughout the world, including Brazil, China, India and Russia.

Lenovo believes it already has an advantage in emerging markets due to its lengthy experience in China.

"The way we see it is the growth is coming in SMB and particularly very small businesses, where we have a smaller market share than with large customers," Deepak Advani, Lenovos chief marketing officer and head of strategy, said at the event. "By serving those two types of customers very well we can meet our growth objectives," he added.

The company will use a prominent technology sponsorship of the 2006 Olympics Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and later the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, China, to help boost the Lenovo brand name.

Although Lenovo will be the companys overarching brand, it will also work to strengthen its well-known sub-brands, such as ThinkPad, Advani said.

Lenovo will provide about 5,000 desktops, 350 servers and 600 notebooks, which will power everything from the games Venue and Central Results System to Internet access for athletes.

The company has already begun advertisements connected with its Olympic sponsorship in China and will commence them globally later this year, it said in a statement.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about Lenovos work with business customers.

Although Lenovo will focus on businesses at first, the executives said that it is likely to begin offering consumer-oriented products—including devices such as cell phones—outside of China at some point in the future. The prospect is particularly likely in emerging markets.

Thus consumer products are a "question of when not if," Advani said.