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Lenovo Takes Off

Less than a year after buying IBM’s PC business, Lenovo took its first broad steps last week to move out of the computer giant’s shadow and make a name for itself in the United States.

Less than a year after buying IBM’s PC business, Lenovo took its first broad steps last week to move out of the computer giant’s shadow and make a name for itself in the United States.

Purchase, N.Y.-based Lenovo unveiled its first suite of products in the United States under the Lenovo brand when it rolled out a series of notebooks and desktops jointly developed by its teams in the United States, China and Japan.

In addition, Lenovo executives said the company is headed toward significant upgrades to its channel programs—upgrades it has been signaling in meetings with solution providers since late last year.

“We’re substantially enhancing the business partner program,” said Craig Merrigan, vice president of strategy, market intelligence and design. The enhancements will be formally announced next month at Lenovo’s PartnerWorld.

“They’ve been very strong,” said John Marks, CEO of JDM Infrastructure, a Lenovo solution provider based in Rosemont, Ill. “They’ve been aggressive. I think they know they have to make a name for themselves, and they don’t have a lot of time to do it.”

The Lenovo 3000 notebooks and desktops target what company officials have said is a critical and strategic segment: the small- and midsize-business space.

The new C100 notebooks are a departure from the ThinkPads not just in name, but in design. They are silver and weigh a hefty 6.2 pounds, compared with the black ThinkPads, which are half the weight, in some cases. The new notebooks initially will run with Intel Pentium M or Celeron M chips.

The new desktops include the J100 and J105, which run on Intel Pentium 4 or Celeron, or Advanced Micro Devices’ Sempron or Athlon processors. These are Lenovo’s first U.S. products with AMD chips.

Bob Galush, Lenovo’s vice president of desktop marketing, said he expects 75 percent to 80 percent of the new systems to go through channel partners, with the rest being sold direct.

Lenovo is also being the most aggressive it’s ever been with pricing. The C100 notebooks have an entry street price of $599, and the J Series desktops start at $349.

Pricing was a key point of interest to solution providers. “We need not only a price point that is extremely competitive to Dell’s laptop and desktop family, but we also need some steak sauce added to the vanilla machines that have been rolling out over the past couple of years,” said John Riddle, president of Information Networking, Irvine, Calif.

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