Looking To Take the Next Step, Lenovo Blurs Lines Between Consumer And Commercial Devices

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In just a few short years, Lenovo has risen from an obscure also-ran in the PC market to the top global computer maker.

After jumping ahead of PC stalwarts Hewlett-Packard and Dell, Lenovo is looking to take the next step with tablet and smartphone dominance, putting it up against mobile heavyweights such as Apple and Samsung (Lenovo recently acquired Motorola Mobility from Google, which was announced after the initial publication of this article). To get there, Lenovo is making some bold moves to broaden its appeal and take advantage of the consumerization of IT and bring-your-own-device trends.

For example, Lenovo recently began melding the internal operations of its consumer and commercial businesses (traditionally, the ThinkPad line of commercial products and the IdeaPad line of consumer products were kept separate). In addition, the company is exploring new form factors and designs -- even bringing a new Android-based desktop to market.

[Related: Lenovo: Red Dragon Rising]

During the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, CRN spoke with Jay Parker, president of Lenovo North America, about the company's plans for 2014. Parker gives his take on everything from Android's potential on desktops and notebooks to the effect of Windows 8.1, while also discussing the company's future plans for the smartphone market in North America. Here are excerpts from the conversation with Parker at CES 2014.

CRN: You've talked previously about some mobile form factors merging together. Are hybrids and convertibles viable for the enterprise?

Parker: Yes, I think so. It's taken off faster in the consumer market, obviously, because the operating system -- Windows 8 -- is more prevalent in the consumer market at this point than the enterprise. But as the business environment moves to more touch-based applications, as businesses transition their operating systems, and as tablet form factors become more prevalent, then I think these multimode PCs are going to be the way many users want to go. In the last six to 12 months we've had a number of customers move to our Helix form factor on the ThinkPad side, and I think that's only going to accelerate.

CRN: For the enterprise tablet, is it still mostly a Windows 8 sale? Or are corporate customers looking at Android as much as Windows?

Parker: Well, going back to what I said before, I think when you're talking about the traditional computing environment and how it will over the next few years transition to touch-based systems, I think many of those customers will transition to a two-in-one device. Now there absolutely are unique business requirements for pure tablets -- not traditional computing but new ways of using technology that tablets are appropriate for. And in that case, Android -- as well as Windows 8 -- is a viable operating system. And I think customers are evaluating both depending on their needs.

NEXT: Addressing The Needs Of The Commercial Market

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