It’s true: we used to be a PC company. Now we're something more, and 2017 provided ample evidence of that. At massive global tech events and smaller, more intimate Lenovo gatherings around the world, we broadened our gadget horizons to unveil new phones, tablets, headsets and—yeah—that crazy Star Wars: Jedi Challenges thing.
Here’s how it all went down in 2017.
We began the year as we always do, running straight from holiday vacations to the madness of the world’s largest consumer electronics show, CES, in Las Vegas. We did not show up empty-handed, revealing a business-sexy new slate of ThinkPad X1 products: the X1 Carbon laptop, X1 Yoga 2-in-1 and the X1 tablet. We also unveiled the Lenovo Smart Assistant, an Alexa-powered home device with a 360-degree microphone array and exceptional sound (hello, Harman/Kardon edition).
After a glorious Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the next stop was Lenovo Transform, our first-ever major event dedicated to our data center business. We threw a party in New York City to announce the rebranding—some would say reimagining—of our Data Center Group while introducing our ThinkAgile and ThinkSystem brands. We also showed off powerful servers, a foldable concept PC and a tiny workstation. Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang took the stage with images of the industrial revolution behind him. “Today,” he said, “we are standing at the beginning of the Fourth Revolution. This revolution will transform how we work and live. IT is no longer just information technology. It is intelligent transformation.”
The following month at Tech World in Shanghai, we showed off a bevy of crazy concepts—like a Smart Vest that tracks your most minute health and fitness details—but our fans really reacted to seeing colorful new models of our little dynamo, the Yoga Book.
July saw our Moto team taking over New York City for the release of the new Moto Z2 Force. The smartphone sported a mighty new Shattershield display that dared you to drop it and a batch of new moto mods, including a camera that can record 360-degree video at 4K resolution.
In August, our Lenovo Legion team had the privilege of attending Gamescom in Germany and took the opportunity to unveil three new obscenely powerful VR-ready gaming towers, chief among them the Legion Y920. Days later, Team Lenovo landed in Berlin and dropped a ton of new devices at IFA, the massive annual autumn tech show. The Yoga 920 was greeted as our most refined 2-in-1 to date, with the right blend of power and battery life, not to mention impeccable design led by the now-iconic 360-degree metal hinge.
If the new Yoga was a strong reminder of our PC heritage, our two new out-of-this-world headsets revealed some thrilling possibilities as to where we’re headed next. Lenovo Explorer employs Windows Mixed Reality technology, a new take on VR that blends the physical and digital worlds to produce environments in which physical and holographic objects coexist and interact in real time. With this headset, people can travel the world, swim with dolphins, or experience Minecraft or Halo in an entirely new way.
Arguably the biggest hit at IFA, though, was Star Wars: Jedi Challenges. We worked with Disney and Lucasfilm to create a smartphone-powered augmented reality game experience that helps you feel like you’re part of classic Star Wars storylines. It features our Mirage AR headset, a Lightsaber Controller and a Tracking Beacon that helps you fight villains and command armies in the comfort of your own home. (It has also since emerged as one of the must-have gifts of the holiday season.)
Our last big event of 2017 happened in Yokohama, Japan, where we celebrated 25 tech-changing years of the ThinkPad. Japan happens to be the spiritual birthplace of ThinkPad so it made good sense to be there and host luminaries like Arimasa Naitoh, who helped invent the smart black laptop back in 1992. Longtime ThinkPad design lead David Hill was also in attendance to reveal ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition, a thoroughly modern laptop with a reverence for the past that was inspired by our rabid ThinkPad fan community.
Yes, it was a big year for Lenovo. But, just so you know, we’re not resting on our laurels. At the time of this writing, it’s 25 days until CES 2018 and we are hard at work making sure we live up to the standards we’ve set.
Gavin O’Hara is Lenovo’s Global Social Media Publisher.