Lenovo marks ThinkPad 20th birthday with new offering

Lenovo marks ThinkPad 20th birthday with new offering

Vendor says it's 'in the PC game' to stay, and relies on resellers to keep it there

PC-maker Lenovo continues to hold its own with a new laptop offering designed for the enterprise market, where the vendor already has a strong presence.

According to the company, Lenovo has a 20 percent share in the enterprise space in New Zealand, a presence that called for the appointment in 2011 of Synnex as its second distributor here, joining incumbent distributor Ingram Micro.

“We’ve seen competitors say they’re in, they’re out, they’ll see how it goes,” says David Heyworth, director of product solutions and alliances for ANZ. “But it’s always been clear for us. We’re in the PC game. We’re not in the post-PC era. It’s the PC-plus era.”

The company on August 24 introduced its ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabook with a carbon fibre body that is designed to make it light and portable, at 1.36 kilograms, but durable, if not fully ruggedised. But a company representative claims it is the first rugged notebook for the enterprise market. The launch of the product marks the 20th anniversary of the ThinkPad line.

“We feel it meets the demand for an extremely thin and light laptop, with the performance users need to accomplish professional business goals,” says Alan Munro, managing director, Lenovo ANZ, in a statement.

The X1, which starts at $2,199, is part of an overall strategy to sell more into the SMB and enterprise markets. It has established a partnership with EMC to embed Lenovo’s servers in storage arrays with a new company Lenovo has a controlling share in. The EMC relationship will begin in China and roll out from there later this year. The vendor has a similar alignment with Iomega.

“With the alliances we’re building out, we’re saying how do we package new products, what’s suitable for the market,” says Heyworth. “And at the moment we’re expecting there to be a host of solutions later this year.”

Heyworth says local growth has bumped up its permanent New Zealand staff from three to five, with, at any time, a total of eight people supporting the partner ecosystem here. Lenovo has around 560 resellers in New Zealand, and cites its channel focus, high margins, flexible pricing, online training and rebates, as the factors behind its performance.

“The channel is really important for us and that’s been our success,” he says. “And our vendor partnerships enable us to work with the channel well.”

Heyworth says other services it can offer resellers, such as factory-direct imaging and asset tagging, also help win customers over. Lenovo has a two-tier channel programme, and relies on its two distributors who reach the channel “on a daily basis”.

“It’s about understanding our resellers’ business, what he drivers are, what they need to do to attain and acquire customers and planning. How do we help with cash flow, what can we do to help your business? And we’ve made some changes to improve that.”

Part of that is rolling out a wide range of PC products meant to appeal to business customers. According to Heyworth, IDC reported that across ANZ, Lenovo has increased its corner of the workstation market from 6.2 percent to 10.9 percent.

Heyworth says this growth reflects the company’s dedication to the PC.

“In business, from the SMB to the enterprise environment, customers value dependability,” Heyworth says.

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