Innovation Delivered: Partners Hail Lenovo For ‘Challenging The Norm’

Lenovo is looking to seize the moment with PCs considered essential amid widespread remote work and learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Lenovo recently began taking orders for its trailblazing foldable laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Fold, Susie Smith was among the fi rst to place an order.

And it wasn’t just because she’s a top Lenovo partner as general manager of Wichita, Kan.-based Twotrees Technologies, a subsidiary of Lenovo Platinum partner Woodard Technology and Investments. Rather, it was because, as Smith put it, “I love new stuff. That’s part of why I’m in this business.”

And Smith sees Lenovo as the leader in delivering product innovation that is not only useful, but is also pretty cool.

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“They’re not afraid to try something totally different,” she said. “They take a fresh look at a problem and try to solve it.”

[RELATED: ‘Doing The Right Thing’: How Lenovo Stepped Up For Partners In 2020]

The industry’s first mainstream foldable PC, the X1 Fold, features a 13.3-inch display that provides an array of usage modes thanks to its foldability.

When partly folded, it can serve as a dual-display device with numerous options for multitasking across the two screens—including with a Bluetooth keyboard that can magnetically attach to the lower screen, for use in a standard notebook fashion.

When unfolded, the device can be used as a tablet or as a screen connected to the Bluetooth keyboard. The X1 Fold is also highly portable, weighing 2.2 pounds, and features optional 5G connectivity.

The launch comes as Lenovo is looking to seize the moment with PCs considered essential amid widespread remote work and learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Pascal Bourguet, vice president and chief category and marketing officer for Lenovo North America’s Intelligent Devices Group.

Within the PC space, Lenovo is “very excited to be in category creation mode” with the X1 Fold, Bourguet said.

And for partners, “when you go into category creation, it’s always an opportunity to start a discussion for the channel partner with the customer,” he said.

Within Lenovo’s latest product launches, it’s not just the X1 Fold that is making a splash in the industry.

Smith also pointed to the forthcoming ThinkPad X1 Nano—the lightest ThinkPad yet with a starting weight of 1.99 pounds—and the ThinkBook Plus as other examples of major Lenovo innovation this year. The ThinkBook Plus includes a 10.8-inch E Ink display on the top cover, which can be used for taking notes or sketching with a digital stylus, as well as for getting emails and notifications.

Jennifer Noto, vice president of marketing at Portland, Maine-based Logically, a Lenovo Gold partner, said she has been highly impressed with Lenovo’s track record on product development—including with the X1 Fold.

“I love that they are constantly raising the bar for what technology should be,” Noto said. “They’re constantly challenging the norm, and they’re really in tune with what their customers need—and want—to be successful.”

Lenovo’s intelligent devices portfolio has also branched out beyond the PC and into emerging segments such as dedicated collaboration devices.

At the start of the year, Lenovo unveiled the ThinkSmart View—a desktop device that features an 8-inch touch screen for taking part in Microsoft Teams video and audio calls. The launch came just before Teams usage surged with the shift to remote work in March—and partners such as Calgary, Alberta-based Long View Systems are reporting strong demand for the ThinkSmart View.

For customers who are on Microsoft Teams calls for many hours a day, “it’s important that you have the best experience” for the meetings, according to Kent MacDonald, senior vice president of strategic alliances for Long View Systems.

The ThinkSmart View is “very user-friendly and has very good voice quality. It just makes the overall experience more enjoyable and valuable,” MacDonald said. “And from what I’m aware of, that’s very unique in the market to have a Teams-specifi c device. So that’s been a growth area for us.”

Devices such as the ThinkSmart View and the X1 Fold also demonstrate that Lenovo is putting business customers at the forefront of its innovation efforts, executives and partners told CRN.

With the X1 Fold, for instance, the foldable PC design is coming fi rst to Lenovo’s ThinkPad business line rather than to its consumer PC portfolio.

“The direction that we’ve taken is to do this for business users because we believe that the most fitting purpose is usage on the business side,” Bourguet said. “It’s a great credit to the commitment that we’re bringing to the commercial space, and it’s a great credit to the innovation engine, which is very vibrant at Lenovo.”

With the X1 Fold, Smith predicts that Lenovo will have another game-changer in the PC space, similar to the company’s convertible Yoga line previously.

“You have to keep pushing—to me that’s what the technology industry is all about. You have to keep innovating,” Smith said. “Lenovo is not resting on their laurels—they’re staying on top of it.”