Lenovo Takes Page From Apple's Book: Quality

In a world of cutthroat competition in notebook computers, lowest bidders, and commodity products, Lenovo is making a bold move to champion Thinkpad quality, according to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. [Subscription Required.]

PC makers have long been envious of Appleis seemingly unique ability to charm customers with the idea of paying a little more and getting a little more. Now, Lenovo is going to try the same tactic.

Competition from Acer, which makes lower cost notebook computers, and a resurgent Hewlett-Packard is forcing Lenovo to come up with a new strategy. New TV ads show the durability of their computers under water. Sales reps stand and bounce on the computers during their pitches.

"Weire not trying to sell the cheapest computers money can buy," said Deepak Advani, Lenovois chief marketing officer. "[Apple has] a higher price point, but people buy for the brand reputation."

The move may have been instigated by the slow phase out of the IBM association. Two years ago, Lenovo acquired IBMs Thinkpad operation for US$1.25B. Theyill have the right to use the IBM logo until 2010, but theyire already starting to launch off on their own brand identity. Without the IBM name and inferred quality in that label, Lenovo will have to compete on its own terms with Acer, HP, and Dell. And Apple.

This new campaign by Lenovo, however, is nothing new. PC makers have tried many different strategies to differentiate their computers from the competition. Typically, the Windows OS is never mentioned, either because itis an unpleasant liability or a non-differentiator. In any case, the move by Lenovo is a bold and possibly risky move in a market dominated by penny-wise and pound foolish procurement specialists in the business world. Theyive been balking at that slight premium for Apple quality for decades.