In a couple of days it will be 2009 and time to welcome the new year. Perhaps like many, I'm thinking about a few personal resolutions, and wondering what lies ahead in 2009. As I think about the future, I'm pausing to look back at some of the significant Lenovo milestones in 2008 because I think it helps to understand the journey by what is already behind us. Let's walk through 2008 together...
In January, Lenovo launched the new IdeaPad notebooks, and showcased the initial models at CES. These were well received and garnered accolades from Cnet and Laptop Magazine. While these products with bold styling, multimedia features, integrated camera, and frameless glossy screens were designed with the consumer in mind, Lenovo was expanding it's business portfolio as well. A licensing deal with IBM signaled Lenovo's entrance into the server market. February arrived and saw the new ThinkPad X300 featured on the cover of BusinessWeek magazine. The X300 was thin, light, and packed with features, and sparked a lot of online discussion and debate with comparisons to the sleek Mac Air. Apple is well known for their customer support base, and I continue to be surprised and impressed with the conviction and depth of the ThinkPad support community. The manila envelope came to symbolize the ultra slim, ultra portable space and soon became the subject of several humorous YouTube videos.
By March, "Green" was becoming more of a mainstream focus and Lenovo was ready with the new ThinkCentre M57 / M57P which was the first desktop PC to earn the "Greenguard" certification, making it Lenovo's most environmentally responsible desktop PC at the time, and an industry leader. The ThinkCentre M57/M57P is EPEAT Gold rated, Energy Star 4.0 rated, and the first ThinkCentre with recycled material from consumer plastics. To help clients better understand the energy savings and carbon reductions possible, an energy calculatorwas developed. Being able to quantify real world ROI is important, and this is a good step in that direction. By the end of March, the Lenovo designed Olympic torchwas lit, and the relay spanning 21 cities and 5 continents began. The torch design itself was an amazing story in 2007, as Lenovo's design was selected from 388 different submissions!
While Lenovo was working on reducing energy usage in PCs, and preparing for the Olympics only 100 days away, it was also making strategic investments in new facilities around the world to shorten supply lines and improve responsiveness to customers. New facilities in Mexico, Poland, India, and the US were in various stages of completion. In April, Lenovo opened the new US fulfilment center. I blogged the grand opening previouslyin May, and was really impressed with the facility's staff, the investment in the community, and how this would benefit our US customers going forward by making Lenovo a more reliable and responsive supplier. In June, Lenovo unveiled Asset Recovery Servicesto fill an emerging need to help clients better manage the secure disposal of PC assets at the end of their usage cycle. Services are vital, but often don't receive the kind of media and promotion attention that products do. Online discussion of product experiences is fairly mature and as services grow, I expect to see more opportunities for discussion within social networks.
By the end of June, the IdeaCentre line of consumer desktops became official, with the debut of the K210 model. July brought welcome news to IdeaPad customers - refreshed models Y530, Y730, U330 and availability through more channel partners and Lenovo direct. The new models included more powerful CPUs, more features, and more colors. Customer feedback through forums and our support centers concerning the hard disk partitioning and recovery functions had been incorporated into these new models. IdeaPads now shipped with a large "C" drive and smaller "D" partition, while later models of the K210 shipped with a single large "C" partition.
In support of the Olympic games, Lenovo provided new notebooks, digital video cameras, and helped set up blogs for 100 Olympic athletes so that they could connect with their fans and supporters, and share some of their training and final preparations for the games. Their blogs were shared through the Voices of the Summer Gameswebsite.
The Olympics were a success, Lenovo's technology performedwithout a hitch on the world stage. To say the logistics of wiring the Olympics were huge would be an understatement. Consider just the Lenovo hardware involved...
- 24,000 desktop PCs: primarily M55e
- 10,000 17” TFT flat-panel displays
- 2,000 15” touch-screen displays
- 2,000 desktop printers: LJ7800Ns and LJ3500s
- 800 notebook computers: primarily T60's
- 700 servers: SureServe T350, R630, and R520s
Continuing the positive momentum, the ThinkPad product line was refreshed with the new T400 and T500 models, the R400, and the new workstation W500 and W700 models, the later geared to the graphic artist and designer, sporting RAID capabilities and a Wacom digitizer in the palmrest. Also joining the product line were the new, small business focused SL300, SL400, and SL500 models. New remote disable technologies from Intel were also announced as part of the next generation of security features. ThinkServer joined the family of Think products with a September 16th announcement. Recently, at a technology fair, I had a chance to see some of the ThinkServer products first hand. The array of plugable fans impressed me with their design and ease of use in this rack mounted model. Seeing the growing breadth and depth of the Lenovo product line in 2008 is exciting to me personally, as I know we will better able to meet the needs of our global customer base. In October, the ThinkCentre M58/M58P were announced adding to the total of 24 Lenovo ThinkCentre desktops that meet EPEAT Gold standards. I used to think being "Green" was a fad, a marketing tactic to appeal to a target group. Increasingly, it makes sense to choose a product that will save resources while reducing the total cost of ownership over time. With carbon offsets and a cap and trade system likely in various parts of the world, efficient use of power perhaps becomes less a marketing concept, and more a mainstream requirement.
The Netbook market has just taken off. Small size and sub $400 price point have equaled tremendous growth for customers looking for an ultraportable way to access the web. Will this become more appliance like in the future? The S9 / S10 IdeaPad models have been very successful, and we have shared them with many members of our online community around the world through blogger meet ups. Steve Hamm's book, "The Race for Perfect: Inside the Quest to Design the Ultimate Portable Computer." came out in November. I have a copy on order. While I'm certain my name will not appear anywhere in the book, I expect it to be an entertaining read, and gratifying to recognize the names of other employees and see their contributions and interactions from an outsider's perspective. For all the highlights I mentioned here, there are dozens more that could be selected from around the world to discuss. Even by measure of just those I have touched upon, 2008 has been one heck of a year!