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Innovation

Lenovo delivers the designs: Will it matter?

Lenovo is rolling out a bevy of interesting designs with notebooks that can turn into smartpads, one device with two operating systems and PCs with pizzazz for the enterprise and small business market. The big question: Will it matter?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Lenovo is rolling out a bevy of interesting designs with notebooks that can turn into smartpads, one device with two operating systems and PCs with pizzazz for the enterprise and small business market. The big question: Will it matter?

Simply put, Lenovo is hitting the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2010 hard before the confab kicks off. The ThinkPad revamps, the tweener business-consumer laptops and two-in-one approach are all interesting developments. It remains to be seen whether these designs are notable enough to make Lenovo a player in the U.S. Here's a look at Lenovo's last 48 hours:

And then there's the reality. Lenovo's moves are drowned out by buzz elsewhere in the tech industry---notably Apple's tablet and Google's Nexus One smartphone. Meanwhile, there are the market share realities. According to IDC, Lenovo is in fourth place in the worldwide PC race trailing HP, Acer and Dell.

In the U.S. Lenovo doesn't register at all as a PC option (outside of the enterprise):

Why? Lenovo jumped into the consumer PC market only a few years ago. Before that Lenovo focused on the enterprise in the U.S. and defended its home turf in China.

To be a player, Lenovo has worked on design and has made a few big---if quirky bets. Consider the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid tablet laptop. This device, which will run you $999, is multitouch system that includes a detachable screen. Overall, this system has two processors and two operating systems. Wintel runs the main system, but the smartbook is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor and Linux.

Is there a market for this hybrid tablet PC? I have no idea, but I appreciate the effort to think outside of the traditional laptop encasing.

ZDNet users are already skeptical. One Talkbacker said:

This seems to be the overall "go for the money on useless features" strategy. I could get a much better netbook at about half to one-third of the price - so I am not sure what the "innovation" is for an 11" machine. Seems they are trying to cram a laptop/tablet PC into a netbook form factor without the price advantage.

That argument is easy to make. Lenovo is going to have its share of flops, but eventually it'll deliver a hit. The challenge for Lenovo will to develop a hit that can rise above the buzz its rivals can generate. I always play the "what if Apple did this?" game. In this game, you take a design from another PC vendor put Steve Jobs behind it and guess how the buzz-o-meter would do.

If Apple did the hybrid tablet PC the reaction would be decidedly different. That conundrum is Lenovo's challenge. There's little question Lenovo can be a corporate player, but to rev up the masses the company will have to continue to take chances.

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