While Lenovo remained tight-lipped about its forthcoming tablets during its Accelerate 2011 partner conference, the computer maker's executive leadership did shed some light on what's to come in the ultra-hot product category.
Specifically, Lenovo confirmed that two tablet models are on track to launch this summer. While both tablets will run Google's Android operating system, one will be consumer-focused while the other model will be targeted at business users. The IdeaPad tablet, which has already be released in China as the LePad, will be a consumer device, while the ThinkPad table, like the ThinkPad notebook series, will have enterprise class features for the commercial market.
While Lenovo has yet to announce the exact dimensions or specifications of the two tablet models, Peter Hortensius, senior vice president and head of Lenovo's Product Group, promised that the devices would come with basic ports and inputs, such as USB 2.0, that would make the tablets easy to use for both customer segments. He added that Lenovo will also bring a Windows-based tablet to the market at some point in the future.
"Expect to hear a lot from us on tablets this summer," Hortensius told the audience during his Accelerate keynote.
Despite introducing the IdeaPad U1 hybrid notebook-tablet device at CES 2010 to rave reviews, and then showing off the LePad tablet at this year's CES, Lenovo has yet to introduce a tablet in the North American PC market. Meanwhile, competing tablets from Samsung, HP, Motorola, and Research In Motion have all hit the market.
But Lenovo President and COO Rory Read explained the reason his company has waited on launching tablets. "We had that [tablet] product for a year. And we could have launched it at any time," he said during his keynote at the partner conference. "But Android wasn't ready."
Lenovo postponed the release of the U1 hybrid because originally the tablet section of the device used a homegrown Linux brand called Skylight. But Lenovo saw the growth of Android last year and decided to hitch its wagon to Google's mobile OS but wait until a fully functional, tablet-optimized version of Android was released (Good released Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb, for tablets earlier this year).
Read also said Lenovo studied the tablet market in North America and spoke with customers and CIOs to make sure the company didn't introduce a "vanilla tablet."
David Roman, chief marketing officer at Lenovo, seconded that point during his own keynote, saying the IdeaPad and ThinkPad tablets will be worth the wait. "We waited so we'd have the right products to bring to market," Roman said. "And I think you'll be pleased."