Lenovo tries to step out from Big Blue shadow

Updated: 2007-01-13 16:54

Lenovo is trying to consolidate its brand power by removing the IBM logo from popular ThinkPad laptops sold to big corporate customers, local media reported.

"We now ask our big customers whether they need the logo. If the answer is no, there won't be IBM marks on the ThinkPads they buy," the Beijing Business Today quoted an unidentified source from the ThinkPad business unit of Lenovo Greater China as saying.
Chinese PC giant Lenovo acquired Big Blue's PC unit in 2005. In order to maintain its appeal for global customers, it obtained the right to retain the famous IBM logo on the previously IBM-developed computers, including the Think series, until 2010.

Pictures of Lenovo's new ThinkPad X60 without IBM logos have recently appeared on the Internet, drawing speculation about a major branding change for the products.
"Lenovo can't remove IBM logos from laptops targeted at retail customers before 2008," the source told the newspaper.

However, giving large enterprise customers the option of removing the IBM logo shows the company is implementing a "soft landing" strategy to reinforce its brand step by step, an analyst with the CCID Consulting was quoted as saying.

Last October, the Lenovo logo was added to the lower right-hand corner of the ThinkPad screen, in a move to dilute the influence of the IBM brand.

Lenovo will stick to its strategy of developing cheap Lenovo-branded products aimed at retail customers and small and medium-sized enterprises while selling high-end IBM-branded Think series to large companies, Chen Shaopeng, chief marketing officer of the Lenovo Group, told the China Business News.

But the dual-brand strategy is unlikely to last long because Lenovo has a golden opportunity for brand promotion during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, which it will sponsor, said the analyst.

Market researchers say Lenovo has to decide which market is its major target -- high-end or low-end, as an unclear market niche is risky.

Sales of Lenovo's personal computers soared 25 percent in China but slumped 9 percent in America in the July-September period, according to the company's fiscal report released last November.

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