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The PC is supposed to be dead, a margin-deprived hardware business that has no future, but Lenovo is bucking that trend with a vengeance.
The world's fast-growing PC maker has been on a roll the last two years, thanks to its channel-centric sales approach and its revamped product portfolio. The company, which purchased IBM's PC division in 2004, has introduced a number of new products recently, from SMB-focused ThinkPads to all-in-one desktop PCs, while also boosting its channel strategy with its first ever North American partner conference last month.
Now Lenovo is stepping up its efforts with even more new products, including tablets, and a major advertising campaign to increase its brand awareness. The new campaign, titled "For Those Who Do," will be focused on consumers and small business owners, which are two frontiers of potential growth for Lenovo.
Meanwhile, Lenovo plans to launch two Android tablets this summer -- an enterprise class ThinkPad device and an IdeaPad device for consumers -- with a Windows-based tablet coming later.
CRN talked tablets, branding and more with Lenovo President and COO Rory Read at the company's Accelerate 2011 partner conference in Las Vegas. Here are excerpts from the conversation.
What are you impressions of Accelerate 2011 so far?
I think it's an outstanding turnout. I think there's a lot of energy and buzz in the room. People seem optimistic about the industry. I think they're optimistic about the partnership that we're creating together. And I think they sense the synergy in the relationship. So I think people are pretty positive. I'm also very excited about the professional structure of the show; I think it's really well done. The marketing team did a really great job with the event. To me, it looks first class, and it reflects that we have momentum.
Should you have had this event sooner, then? Should Lenovo have held a partner summit a year or even two years earlier?
Well, I think it's at the right time now. We first started with our CES appearances and building our presence, and then giving clarity to our business partners on our strategy, making that strategy very consistent, and then really executing on it. People know what we're going to do. And they believe that we really see their success as being the key to our success. Then we started to do some sessions with distributors and larger business partners, and those sessions went very and well we took feedback based on those sessions and used it [for Accelerate 2011]. And we've been lifting our market share all that time. So I believe this is the perfect time to have this event and really expand. When we started to think about doing this event, we set a target for attendees. And we've exceeded that target. And we've challenged the events team for next year. We said, "Why don't we double, or even triple, this event next year?" Because there's interest here about the product set and the channel strategy and how we can win together.