PC manufacturer Lenovo has mounted a spirited defence of its Australian pricing, despite launching its new flagship ThinkPad X1 laptop in Sydney for $560 more than the cost of the same hardware selling in the United States.
At a launch event yesterday for the device, which brings a number of new features to the Chinese company's laptop line-up, company executives said that local pricing on the machine would start at $1959 — despite it selling for as little as US$1399 in the US. Executives defended the pricing by saying that the company priced "at the local market", not based on what the value of the Australian dollar was compared to the US. Currently, one Australian dollar buys US$1.06.
The logistical cost of bringing hardware to the Australian market was greater than in the US, the company said, in addition to an enhanced cost of servicing Australia's dispersed population. Lenovo Australia managing director Alan Munro cited the "sheer size of supply" to locations such as the US or Europe bringing economies of scale. And costs outside the cities added up. "It's the most urbanised country in the world — if you're outside the urban area, it costs more," he said of Australia.
"There will be fluctuations in pricing from country to country," said Lenovo product lead David Heyworth. "We try to ensure they are as minimal as possible. There are service and support issues that we need to maintain here. We feel that at $1959, for an X1 product, which is quite revolutionary, with new standards of managements, processor speeds ... we feel it's a compelling product."
Lenovo executives added that the pricing was based on Lenovo's desire to be competitive in the Australian market — not necessarily to match parity with the US dollar.
Lenovo is billing the X1 itself as its new thinnest laptop — but still with a great deal of processing power and features. The device has a 13-inch screen and a number of high-end features — it can come with Intel's i3, i5 or i7 processors, uses a sturdy "Gorilla Glass" screen from manufacturer Corning, has a new battery which can charge up to 80 per cent in 30 minutes and a new backlit keyboard.
Dolby sound comes built in, as well as an on-board 3G mobile broadband connection, 720p camera, high-definition microphones designed to support Voice over IP telephony and a fingerprint reader. Overall, Heyworth billed the laptop as the most advanced laptop ever made in Lenovo's ThinkPad line-up. The company acquired the range from IBM some years ago; it has a reputation for quality amongst business users.
At the event, Heyworth conducted some unusual demonstrations to prove the ThinkPad X1's durability — dropping a model to the floor from height and then standing on it, and pouring a glass of water over the device's keyboard. The machine survived and was still able to function as normal.
"I could dance, but I think I should stop dancing before it stops working," joked Heyworth as he stood on the laptop.