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

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.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

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.

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