By 7 January 2010 | Categories: feature articles


When a Chinese company took over IBM’s strong ThinkPad laptop division in 1995, it left the industry stunned. How is it possible that a relatively unknown computer manufacturer from the East can take over arguably one of the most innovative and respected laptop brands? The question on everyone’s lips was: “Who exactly is Lenovo?” Pictured above is the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500, the ultimate all-in-one for gamers and multimedia users

Chinese innovation
As a brand Lenovo is relatively unknown in South Africa, but in China they are massive and the number one computer brand in the country. In fact one in every three computers sold is a Lenovo. Started as Legend in 1984 on a puny budget of only $25 000, they soon started releasing a string of innovative products for the Chinese market, including the first PC to operate in Mandarin, and the extremely popular Wave PC in 1999. The Wave simplified a then difficult internet connection process (including signing-up for the net) by simply allowing users to press the single internet button mounted on the machine.

Legend becomes Lenovo
Legend grew as the massive demand for PCs in China increased. Eventually hindered in their international ambitions by the name Legend, the company changed to Lenovo in 2003. From there it was a short jump to them buying over IBM’s PC division in 1995 for $1.75 billion. At first, both the name IBM ThinkPad and Lenovo appeared on all ThinkPad released, but IBM was completely dropped in 2008.

Think and Idea
A key to understanding Lenovo’s offering is in their segmentation of their business and consumer offerings, categorised under the Think- and Idea series respectively. While the ThinkPad notebook range still remains a mainstay under business users, provoking the same brand loyalty from ThinkPad users as most provincial rugby teams from their fans, it’s the Idea series’ consumer notebooks (IdeaPads) and all-in-one PCs (falling under IdeaCentre) that grabbed our attention.

Lenovo Design
It’s the multi-national team behind the Innovation Design Centre that are responsible for Lenovo’s range of interesting designs. These days the design of a laptop, and now also all-in-ones, plays an equally important role as the technology behind it. A simple aspect, such as a textured cover design that can be felt when touching the laptop (as featured on some of the latest IdeaPad range) helps for example for a more personalised product experience. Although Lenovo has been the recipient of major awards, including the prestigious Red Dot Best award, we noted that their design of the Beijing Olympic Torch is what they take the most pride in.

Plans for Africa
The so called emerging markets, under which South Africa is categorised, is seen as a key area for growth by Lenovo. South Africa not just as a market, but also as a stepping stone into sub-saharan Africa is thus of major importance. While the Lenovo brand isn’t yet as well known in SA as say Acer and HP, they have a lot to offer consumers. And from what we’ve learned from our trip to Beijing, Lenovo will soon be one of the key players here in the Southern tip of Africa. [MJ]

For more info contact Lenovo SA on 011-911-2000.

Lenovo Fast Facts
• Lenovo comes from the combinations of “Le” from Legend, and “novo” pseudo-Latin for new.
• Number one PC vendor in China since 1997, currently fourth largest in the world
• Lenovo was one of the main sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and designed the Olympic Torch.
• There are 32 Lenovo ThinkPad T61p laptops onboard the International Space Station.


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