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Lenovo President: IdeaPad U1 Hybrid, Skylight Delayed, Not Cancelled

Lenovo President and COO Rory Read confirmed to CRN that two of the company's most anticipated products, the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid and Skylight Smartbook, are coming this year despite delays related to embracing a new operating system for the products: Google's Android.

The IdeaPad U1 and Skylight were two of the most buzzed about products at CES 2010 six months ago, earning media accolades and awards and getting strong word-of-mouth feedback from attendees. While other Lenovo products previewed at CES were launched this spring, the U1 and Skylight were quietly delayed. Last month, Lenovo issued a statement on its Website via the Skylight product landing page stating that the initial version of the Skylight smartbook shown at CES, which feature a proprietary Linux-based operating system, was cancelled.

“After careful consideration of market conditions and user feedback, Lenovo has decided to focus its resources on building a family of next-generation mobile internet devices based upon open technologies such as (but not limited to) the Android kernel, similar to the Lenovo smartphone, which is available for sale in China now,” the statement reads. “As a result of Lenovo's strategic shift towards open standards such as an Android kernel based environment, the Company has shelved its plans to release the initial version of the Skylight smartbook that featured a proprietary Linux based OS. Lenovo remains committed to working with our strategic partners to deliver innovative products in the growing mobile internet space, including the aforementioned smartphones and smartbooks, as well as exploring innovative new concepts that continue to "push-the-envelope" like the U1 hybrid PC.”

Following the statement’s release, media outlets speculated both the Skylight and IdeaPad U1 would never see the light of day. However, Read told CRN recently that both products will be released sometime in the coming months, though he did not specify when.

Read explained the delays were a result of Lenovo shifting gears in favor of Android as its mobile OS of choice. But Read reiterated that both the U1 and Skylight are still on track to be released.

“We haven’t launched those to the public yet, and here’s why: in the tablet space, we refocused our work there to make sure we leverage the Android technology,” Read told CRN at the D&H Distributing Mid-Atlantic Technology Show earlier this month. “We announced that development a few weeks ago. So we learned from our customer feedback since CES that they loved the form factor and they loved the concept. But that ecosystem around Android is really picking up speed, and I think it’s a smart move to combine our efforts with what’s going on with Android and make sure we hit that sweet spot. So you’ll see that come later in our fiscal year as we launch those new products. And I think that will fulfill on energy and buzz we saw at CES.”

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