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1/29/2009
05:12 PM
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Lenovo Buys Secretive Startup Switchbox

Consumer technologies from the company, which was co-founded by a former Microsoft executive, are expected to be integrated into upcoming Lenovo products.

Lenovo on Thursday said it has acquired Switchbox Labs, a mystery startup co-founded by a former Microsoft executive. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The development projects of privately held Switchbox are confidential, but will continue under Lenovo, the latter company said. The "consumer technologies" under development by the Seattle-based startup will be integrated into upcoming Lenovo products.

Switchbox co-founders Michael Sievert, Robert Dickinson, and Blake Ramsdell will join Lenovo. Sievert has been named a senior VP and will report directly to Lenovo chief executive William Amelio.

"Switchbox Labs is doing some interesting work, and we are pleased that Switchbox and Mike are joining Lenovo," Amelio said in a statement.

Prior to co-founding Switchbox, Sievert was a corporate VP of Microsoft and has held senior management positions at AT&T Wireless and E-Trade Financial. According to a bio on Microsoft's Web site, Sievert was responsible for global marketing for Windows across all consumer and business segments. In 2006 and 2007, Sievert was in charge of the worldwide introduction of Vista.

Lenovo launched its first consumer desktops and laptops outside of China last year with the introduction of the IdeaCentre and IdeaPad brands, respectively.

Since then, Lenovo has launched a variety of consumer machines, including its first mini-laptop, or netbook. The IdeaPad S10 introduced in August has a 10-inch screen and Intel Atom processor. Pricing starts at $399.

Before entering the consumer market, Lenovo was best known outside of China for its ThinkPad business notebooks, which Lenovo bought from IBM in 2005.

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