Computer Wars: Lenovo’s Durability. Dell’s Retail Strategy

Lenovo’s brand of ThinkPad computers (bought from IBM 2 years ago) are the king of notebook computers. They’re pretty much agreed by everyone to be the best notebooks around – durable. But still Dell leads in notebook sales. I guess people love that low price.
As Lenovo keeps this drum beat of durability and engineering going, is it going to be enough to keep users buying notebooks. Keep in mind Dell’s low prices, HP’s solid notebooks, Sony’s feature rich ones, Gateway’s notebooks and others are in the market as well. Users have a lot of choice. In fact on the train today – I saw an “off brand” notebook – one I had not seen for a long time (I don’t have the exact name though – so won’t print it).
The WSJ writes The campaign comes at a critical time for Lenovo, as the company begins to phase out the IBM brand name and strike out on its own in the U.S. market. While Lenovo dominates the computer industry in China — controlling more than 35% of the country’s computer shipments — the company is struggling to turn profits in the U.S., the world’s largest PC market. Lenovo has been mainly dependent on sales of ThinkPads to big businesses, but that segment of the PC industry has stagnated as growth in the consumer side of the market has surged. Lenovo controls about 12% of the global corporate laptop market in terms of shipments, behind Dell Inc., which controls 19%, and HP, which has a 16% share, according to research firm IDC.
Referring to HP’s more modern look, compared to Dell, Samir Bhavnani, research director of Current Analysis West, a market research firm based in San Diego body slammed Dell in the NY Times He faulted Dell’s thicker, chunkier notebooks for its weak sales. “H.P. is like the plain girl from high school that you see three years later and she is a bombshell, while Dell is the hot girl from high school who has gained 30 pounds,” Mr. Bhavnani said.
I was VERY happy to read that Lenovo is planning to launch a premium branded notebook for $5,000. Which provides ultra-premium support to executives.
I think vendors should also consider doing this for small businesses – in cooperation with local consultants. Offer a premium line of computers that have no question support for 5 years.
In other news Dell is going back to the drawing board and more aggressively considering working with the channel. Dell has always worked with the channel but not as extensively as its peers have. Now we might even see Dell Dimensions in Circuit City!
CRN is covering this extensively. Here, here, and here.