Lenovo Launches Small Business, Consumer Help Service

The new Experts Live service would cover areas traditionally beyond the scope of a computer's warranty, such as operating system and application support, system tune-up, and networking assistance.



Lenovo and IBM on Tuesday launched a 24-hour PC help service for small businesses and consumers who do not have access to IT staffs.

The Experts Live service would provide Lenovo's U.S. customers with the option of online chat or telephone help, and would cover areas traditionally beyond the scope of a computer's warranty, such as operating system and application support, system tune-up, Internet and system security and networking assistance.

The service, however, is not cheap. On-demand calls would cost $99 per incident for online chat and $125 for voice. Prepaid calling would be less at $89 and $99, respectively, for one incident. Three incidents would cost $199 and $229, respectively, and five incidents $259 and $349. The price includes 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access to certified technicians, Lenovo said.

Technicians can use remote tools to access users' PCs to perform service procedures. They also would help customers configure management software that ships with Lenovo ThinkPads notebooks and Lenovo 3000 desktops and portables. The applications provide automated handling of network settings, monitoring of PC performance and security, and data recovery.

IBM is providing the call-center services, network transport and server operations for Experts Live. IBM and Lenovo established their global technology partnership back in 2005 when Lenovo purchased IBM's Think brands (notebooks, desktops).

Lenovo and Acer are Asian computer makers that are a growing threat to U.S. companies that have long dominated the PC market, according to market research firm iSuppli. Lenovo, based in China, accounted for combined desktop and notebook shipments in 2006 of 29.8 million units, or 12.5% of the market, up from 10.8% in 2005.

Lenovo is in the middle of a reorganization meant to cut expenses. The company last month said it would cut 1,400 jobs to remain competitive in the fierce PC market. The workforce reduction was part of the company's plans to streamline its sales and marketing organizations, centralize teams and align multi-national investments and resources.

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