Lenovo 'fine' with Surface; aims ThinkPad Tablet 2 at enterprises

Lenovo 'fine' with Surface; aims ThinkPad Tablet 2 at enterprises

Summary: Acer can berate Microsoft as much as it wants, Lenovo isn't remotely bothered by Microsoft's Surface tablet. Why? Lenovo has little to lose, while Acer has a lot.

TOPICS: Lenovo

Despite Acer berating Microsoft for its venture into the tablet space, Lenovo said it isn't fussed by it. In response, it dished out a brand new tablet: the ThinkPad Tablet 2, aimed for business and enterprise users.

Why is Lenovo content with the Surface, while Acer cries foul? Because Acer has a lot more to lose than PC market share leader Lenovo. And Acer should be worried.

In a nutshell (you probably don't need reminding): Microsoft's Surface tablet is the software company's first venture into the tablet market. Despite its "Microsoft" branding, it's likely that Asus is building the device, which has around 7 percent of the global PC building market share, according to IDC and Gartner.

Acer, which stands in fourth place behind HP -- which will soon be overtaken by Lenovo as the world leader in PC building -- Dell and Lenovo, kicked up a storm that Microsoft's Surface will push out its existing OEM partners

But as ZDNet editor-in-chief Larry Dignan explained, Acer's position is "laughable" at best, and remarked that the PC ecosystem "needs some disruption."

The overall global PC market is stagnant and struggling to maintain healthy levels. Jefferies analyst warned earlier this year that PC unit sales could drop by as much as 10 percent in the third-quarter. Ouch.

Lenovo is in a strong position. Its rapid growth and targeted markets are lifting the company to the pole podium position in PC manufacturing. With close to 13 million shipments in the second quarter, the remaining PC makers are quaking in their boots.

Speaking to ABC News' Joanna Stern: "Microsoft is a strategic partner for us. The Surface has brought more excitement to the marketplace. The ThinkPad tablet is focused after the business individual; the Surface is more geared towards the consumer offering," said Dilip Bhatia, vice-president for Lenovo's ThinkPad business division.

(ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has more on the technical specs, and James Kendrick has the product image line-up. With the announcement comes two new ultrabooks -- ready for the enterprise.)

Of course, Lenovo isn't even remotely bothered by the Surface tablet; it's too high up in the chain for Microsoft to come close to touching it. Plus, the firm is working with Microsoft to get Windows 8 on the tablet in the first place. 

Acer, further down the line, will see Surface as a direct competitor. It's a tale of two fronts: Microsoft is trying to get its software on as many tablets as it can, while OEMs like Acer and Lenovo want to sell as many tablets as they can, irrespective of software.

The trouble is, the operating system alone will sway the decision in what the business consumer wants.

Microsoft will likely see a similar market share figure to its Windows Phone platform: high enough to be in the top five manufacturers, but eclipsed in numbers by its competitors. Microsoft will will likely see a bump in Windows 8 on tablet shipments, and Lenovo will help with this -- just as Samsung helps Google in operating system market share by using Android, and vice-versa.

Microsoft is right to shake up the PC ecosystem. It's what it relies on. Surface isn't a threat to the PC ecosystem at all; it's a cleverly designed disruptor.

Topic: Lenovo

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  • Bottom, not top...

    Sorry, but the Tablet 2 is the exact reason that Microsoft are getting into the hardware market, I believe.

    We've had a bunch of Atom based tablets come through in the last year or so and they couldn't blow the proverbial skin of a rice pudding! Good, Windows 8 is supposed to be less resource hungry than Windows 7, but when the Atom based tablets couldn't smoothly pinch-to-zoom using Windows built in image viewer, with nothing running in the background, it is going to have a hard time being taken seriously.

    This is why Microsoft are talking about having real Core processors in their Intel Surface tablet.
    • Atom is confusing people

      Surface has atom processor as well. Its not that old atom. This is a new chip. It was codenamed clovertrail or something.
      • Surface does not use Atom

        The Surface RT is using an ARM chip, and the Surface Pro is using an Ivy Bridge CPU. This was stated in the keynote presentation. However, you are right that this is a different Atom chip. It's their SoC that should be low power usage and much faster.
      • no, Surface has either ARM or Core i5

        ARM for Windows RT, Core i5 Ivy Bridge for Windows 8 Pro. Those Atom tablets do suck; the only one that isn't appallingly slow is the Kupa - tiny German company with a nice little device.
    • Couldn't agree MORE.

      Non-Apple systems focus far too much on maximising the profit per-device, instead of per-million(s of) devices. An Atom and 768 resolution should have stayed in 2009 along with the rest of the netbook rubbish. Unless this is Nexus 7 money (which I doubt) it will die a horrible death.

      Microsoft NEEDED to get in the hardware game for this exact reason. These devices should NOT exist... and I hope Microsoft markets the "Windows 8 Logo Certification" tag as a "watch for". OEM's making crappy hardware must not succeed in turning Windows 8 into another Vista... it should be a great success... but it will NEVER be great using an Atom.
      • It's a waiting game

        We have to see real specs on which Atom chip this will be. If this is Clover Trail, we need benchmarks too. Clover Trail uses PowerVR GPU tech, which is similar to what's in a lot of ARM chips right now. However, the last time I saw Intel PowerVR technology in an Atom was in a Z530 system and I couldn't flip it fast enough. It couldn't run Aero in Windows 7 without Windows recommending that it be turned off to improve performance.

        I won't jump in on this until I see CPU and graphics benchmarks. I'm tempted to, mostly because it's a Lenovo, but I'm also waiting to see some AMD tablets.
    • Exactly why Microsoft was smart to create Surface...

      Acer's whining just signals that it can't compete. Lenovo (which usually makes great hardware) is using an ill-performing Atom chip (a netbook chip) on its first tablet with Windows 8.

      No wonder Microsoft is doing what they're doing. Viva las Surfaces! I can't wait to buy two! :)
  • Good article

    Surface the disruptor :D
  • Lenovo 'fine' with Surface; aims ThinkPad Tablet 2 at enterprises

    Amazing what happens when the OEMs work with Microsoft instead of against them. You get well designed products that people want.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • If Microsoft gets in the top five, they push out Acer

    Acer is currently in 5th place for PC marketshare worldwide according to IDC. If Microsoft bumps them down a place, they'll feel it ;-) If Microsoft can bump them down a place, it will be because Acer didn't produce good enough machines; very hard to feel sorry for them over that...
    • That's one way of looking at it...

      ...and to be honest, I can't disagree with you one bit! Like mobile market share, there's a third place sweet spot for the 'rest' of the competition. Lenovo will soon hit the top spot. Between HP, Dell, and Acer, the trio will have to fight it out amongst themselves. If Acer gets bumped, well, they're out.
    • If MS gets in the top five, they'll automatically be bigger than Apple for

      the hardware side of PCs.

      It might not happen in the first year, but in a year or two, with their market-share continuing to climb after that. For that, MS will have to keep prices very reasonable, and not at Apple-like levels. So, while MS might sell Windows 8 devices at lower prices than Apple, their hardware earnings from PCs will be higher than Apple's, simply because of the larger market-share, or larger volume sales.
  • This part is funny

    "Acer, which stands in fourth place behind HP -- which will soon be overtaken by Lenovo as the world leader in PC building"

    So they're mad because they'll lose more in an industry that they're already losing in?
    Michael Alan Goff
    • Ya. That usually happens.

      Nobody likes falling farther behind.

      But you know,....things happen.
  • Who would buy an Acer after all this whining?

    All that this whining signals is that Acer can't compete and, therefore, should be avoided. It was a HUGE mistake for them to react this way & so publicly. It makes Acer seem weak, even weaker than it already was.

    As for the Lenovo ThinkPad2--hopefully this is targeting the low-end market, because Atom chips are notoriously weak. I hope they release something with an iCore chip as well. The last think Microsoft needs is ill-performing tablets out there...
    • Exactly. Lenovo stands to lose more I think. Acer W8 tablets would

      be targeted towards the price range of about half where the surface will land if its aimed at ipada prices. and surface pro is definitely aimed at enterprises. But instead of being cry babies theyre working towards outdoing the surface. Who would by from a cry baby company now no matter what they come out with?
      Johnny Vegas
  • Who?

    Crybaby? Come on, you two. If you stop the next hundred people coming through the turnstile, you'll be lucky to find one person who can name a current Supreme Court justice, or even tell you who is buried in Grant's tomb. And you expect people to know or care what Acer CEO J. T. Wang said in some interview in the Financial Times?

    You're in Geekland. Outside these walls, nobody cares about three-quarters of this stuff.
    Robert Hahn
  • This Is A Company That Is Happy With 2% Profit Margin

    Just thought I'd point that out. No wonder HP wanted to get out of the PC business...
    • Different companies have different strategies?

      Color me shocked.
  • Microsoft has positioned the Surface carefully

    The Surface represents a "Reference Standard" for Microsoft and little more than that.

    The "Surface RT" is a Windows-RT based ARM tablet offering 10-inch 1366x768 resolution and 32/64GB of storage - a proverbial "iPad Killer" which will probably sell for $599 & $699.

    The 10-inch "Surface 8 Pro" is an i5-based system offering 1920x1080, 64GB/128GB SSD storage.

    My guess is that this model will come in at $799 and $899.

    This narrow price range and limited options gives OEMs plenty of opportunity to offer tablets of all kinds.

    For Windows 8, the lower limit is a 10" 1024x768 screen. An (x86) Atom processor. 1GB of RAM. The upper limit is (x64) Core i7 and a any screen-size you can still carry.

    Android 7" tablets sell for as low as $199 and 10" iPads sell for as little as $399 so there is no doubt in my mind that x86/x64 OEMs and ARM tablet makers can compete in this market with Windows RT/8/8-Pro.

    Acer's future is in its own hands. They will succeed or fail, as so many OEMs have done before.
    M Wagner