The popularity of netbooks has been so appealing that Chinese PC powerhouse Lenovo is weighing in on the options of possibly unveiling a Think branded netbook later in 2010.
Although the vendor already offers, IdeaPad as its netbook brand, Lenovo is evaluating whether a Think branded netbook could enhance an already enterprise entrenched brand in the emerging markets region. Top of the agenda for Lenovo will be to address regions such as the Middle East and Africa with products that suit the market dynamics of the two geographies.
Xue Linqun, Director, Think Business Unit, emerging markets at Lenovo, says although a decision hasn’t been made to introduce a Think branded netbook, if customers require a such a product the company would gladly oblige. “We are always driven by our customers’ needs.”
Linqun says currently the IdeaPad has performed well in all the markets it has been introduced in. “We would like to ensure this continued success especially in the emerging markets region where netbooks have become an instance hit,” he says.
Linqun explains that Lenovo’s approach to new product developments is based on meeting customer expectations and needs. “The Think brand is evolving much faster and as this evolution takes place, we would like to extend the product outside the enterprise sphere,” he says. “The Think brand in both desktop and notebook offerings is gaining a lot of awareness especially in the emerging markets region.”
He explains that part of this rapid acceptance outside the enterprise sector has to do with the broadened product offering which is being offered at the right price points especially in the SMB space.
Linqun says although its is company policy not to speak about products that have not been released into the market, Lenovo has been watching certain technology trends with a view of developing products when these technologies become widely adopted in the enterprise. “From a corporate enterprise point of view, we have been and continue to watch closely virtualisation and cloud computing,” he says.
He adds that from a Think perspective, Lenovo has for some time enjoyed a level of accomplishment with its consumer-centric tablet PCs. This year, Linqun says business tablet PCs will be introduced in most countries in the emerging markets region. “We see a lot of growth potential on the African continent with our tablet PC,” he says. “The market is growing and in just one year that these products have been introduced, a lot of SMBs and enterprises on the continent have embraced our Think tablet offerings.”
Linqun says the Middle East is a region that is of huge interest to Lenovo purely because of the number of government and public sector-driven IT projects especially in the GCC. “We are beginning to develop suitable Think products that address the specific needs of customers in this region,” he says. “We are working with a few customers in government, public and private sector to see how best we can bring to this region products that are rightly priced and meet customer expectations,”
Linqun singles out the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the GCC as two countries where Lenovo continues to enjoy successful Think brand penetration from entry level product right through to high-end enterprise solutions.
Given the popularity of netbooks and notebooks, is Lenovo going to scale down its investments in ThinkCentre desktops? With the popularity of netbooks in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, is Lenovo’s desktop market share shrinking?
Linqun says the Lenovo desktop market share in the MEA region is not shrinking and contrary to this belief, customers in this region are going for a mix of both desktops and notebooks/netbooks. “I do believe it is a bit of both and in organisations where mobility is important, you will find that such clients go for netbooks or notebooks,” he notes.
Having said that, Linqun points out in the past, Lenovo’s emerging markets challenge was as a result of lack of a resolute effort to address this market better. “I’m glad to say that this has changed since 2008,” he says. “The focus on the emerging markets hasn’t only been to address this region better and consistently, but to also equip partners and clients with right products and solutions that meet their business demands.”
With all these new Think products Lenovo is readying for different segments, the company seems to be preparing multiple solutions for its clients. Now it needs to up the ante and serve the emerging regions consistently and with a broaden product portfolio.