Ultrabooks, Made-for-K-12 offering top Lenovo CES announcements for channel

Lenovo ThinkPad T430u

The ThinkPad T430u wil be Lenovo's first built-for-business Ultrabook.

In all, Lenovo introduced more than 20 products at last week’s 2012 CES event in Las Vegas, and there are quite a few channel gems among them.

Perhaps the biggest channel opportunity launched at the event is the ThinkPad T430u, the company’s first ultrabook under the corporate-focused Think line of products.

While the Ultrabook is going to be a huge seller this year, many of the products released are in the consumer arena, and therefore lack some of the security and reliability features and promises that solution providers and IT departments like in devices being used in business environments, according to Stefan Bockhop, director of channel sales at Lenovo Canada.

“The consumerization of IT is alive and well, it’s here, and some of the new form factors, like the Ultrabook, is going to attract a lot of attention from buyers,” Bockhop said, particularly in the SMB market.

Although the Ultrabook has been primarily a retail play to date with the IdeaPad U260 product available in Best Buy stores, Bockhop said the stage is set for what he described as “the no-compromise notebook.” In fact, products already available at retail have “far exceeded our expectations” in terms of sales volumes, Bockhop said.

David Schmoock, general manager of North America for Lenovo, said the Ultrabook is an example of how the company is now designing products – marrying the needs and desires of the end user in a consumerization of IT world with the requirements and demands of the IT department.

“It’s not an either/or equation,” Schmoock said. “You have to look at both what IT needs and what the consumer wants.”

One of the other big channel opportunities in the CES announcement class shows off that thinking exactly. The company introduced the ThinkPad x130e, an education-focused notebook that was built with young users, as well as with feedback from school boards, in mind.

“This is the first time we’ve engineered a device [for education] from the ground up,” Bockhop said.

The X130e has been ruggedized for use by kids, but still offers ThinkPad-type manageability as well, making it an attractive offering to school board IT departments as well.

The company’s biggest “halo products” announced at CES, the IdeaCentre A720 and the IdeaPad Halo, might be consumer-focused products, but they are products that solution providers should keep their eyes on as well.

First of all, in the world of consumerization of IT, any product that garners significant desire from the business end user can suddenly find itself in the corporate environment.

But more importantly, some of the innovations included in these products (see our previous coverage of the Yoga and A720, including video reviews of both here) are begging for applications to be developed in the business world. For example, Schmoock said he could see both products being very popular in the healthcare market due to their touch screens and flexibility.

“That’s what I love about the partner community – how they come up with those ideas,” Schmoock said. “It’s great to see how they take the product and run with it.”

For more on Schmoock’s thoughts on channel opportunities with the Yoga an A720 (as well as his thoughts on the ultrabook market) please check out this video.


Meanwhile, both Schmoock and Bockhop continued to position Lenovo as perhaps the most channel-friendly PC option in the market. Schmoock noted that the company had moved from 65 per cent channel to 90-plus per cent channel over the last three years, with the goal being to move even more business towards the channel.

Bockhop furthered Schmoock’s point of avoiding channel conflict and staying away from the kinds of services on which partners make their profitability around products.

“We’ll be that client-focused vendor that continues to focus on the devices,” Bockhop said. “We’re not looking to buy a services company, we’re not looking to become implementation experts. We’ll do what we do best, and leave it to our partners to implement and customize.”