Driving down the memory lane

DQW Bureau
New Update


In an exclusive interview with The DQ Channels, Arimasa Naitoh, Lenovo Fellow, VP-Development, Notebook Business Unit, Think Product Group, Lenovo, took us through the nostalgic journey of the ThinkPad brand.

Could you take us through the ThinkPad journey and the complete transformation period?

The acquisition of IBM's PC division by Lenovo was a big surprise for most of our customers. They were worried about ThinkPad as a brand; it was because the company ownership had changed after the acquisition. However, I maintained and convinced everyone that ThinkPad won't change at all. This was the first message I passed on to my customers and from that very point, we started the transition journey.


And if you talk about the employees of IBM, it was again a big shocker for most of them. It is because ThinkPad as a brand was created by us, it was our baby and none of us wanted to part away with it. It is only after we got the assurance that the ThinkPad brand is going to exist; we kept our worries behind and accepted the change. Apparently, in the next few months, everything settled down and we all started focusing on our business.

Soon after the acquisition, some of the senior management team went back to IBM. Did this development impact the business in any way?

Even though some of the senior management employees moved back to IBM, our core development team chose to remain with Lenovo. We hired some of the young engineers to work on the ThinkPad range. And in the 18 years of our business, this certainly proves that they had a long-term commitment to fundamental core values of ThinkPad.


I would like to mention here that these experiences helped in making ThinkPad one of the most preferred business notebooks across the world. And from day one, we have been delivering meaningful innovations through products and solutions that address business and consumer needs.

What are your plans to position Lenovo as a product in the emerging geographies including India?

Today, our worldwide organi­zational management of markets is divided between two teams. One runs mature markets and the other takes care of emerging markets. It makes more sense for group companies to look at the buying behavior and the maturity of the market. This is our strategy from the logistical point of view.


As a corporate, we follow the 'protect and attack' strategy. We know the fact that we have the most loyal base of customers in the market. We protect our existing customer base by continuing the current ThinkPad line like the T series, W series, X series, etc. Obviously, these all evolve into new products by adding new technologies and continuous innovation. But that's again extending our classic product line.

On the other hand, we follow the attack strategy onto the consumers including the small and medium businesses. In fact, we have introduced new products that are significantly different from the traditional ThinkPad line. This new range is called ThinkPad Edge that comes with a different look and feel, different design identity, which is in the direct recognition of the buying preferences of small and medium businesses.

Unlike the classic ThinkPad line that comes in matt black color, the ThinkPad Edge range comes in different colors and different styles of keyboard etc. But we have made no compromise in the mechanism of the keys, to keep the same feel and zeal. They are available in different shapes but again it is in the recognition of different market segments. We are attacking the market with different styles, but fundamentally, the mechanism remains the same.  We want our customers to feel the same experience.


What is Lenovo's commitment towards Green IT and highlight some of the initiatives that you have in place?

Lenovo is committed to business and environ­mental sustainability, both as a company, and also for its customers. Our products offer the industry best TCO, energy efficiency and performance, which help our customers reduce their energy bills and environmental impact, and ultimately enable a more sustainable business.


We are taking multiple approaches to remain green. From the product perspective, what we have now in the market is recycled plastics being used for manufacturing the products. We are actively integrating recycled materials into the products. If you look at our products' packaging, we have implemented the use of recycled and recyclable material, reduced the size of boxes used for our ThinkPad products, and have increased the use of bulk packaging. We are also using biodegradable inks for printing on these boxes.

The new packaging material, made from 100 percent recycled thermo-formed cushions, enables PCs to be stacked together and requires less packaging material. This new material also helps minimize shipping costs. In addition, Lenovo has implemented the use of 100 percent post-consumer molded fiber (paper pulp) packaging, on many Lenovo notebook product lines, which can typically be readily recycled in municipal waste streams. Lenovo discourages the use of polystyrene packaging wherever possible, and encourages the use of molded pulp and fiber and LDPE.

From the corporate perspective, we invest heavily on unified power management software in our ThinkPads and ThinkCenter desktops so that the customers can manage power consumption. We proactively do power consumption tests on our desktops so that one can quantify how much money one can save on electricity. There's also an ongoing 'Buy Back' program, wherein we buy back the old machines and make sure that it goes to the right recyclers in the market.

And to ensure the development and marketing of environment-friendly products, Lenovo has committed to the design criteria established by EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) and offers products at the EPEAT Gold and Silver levels that deliver higher levels of energy efficiency and power management.


Could you highlight some of the key milestones in these 18 years of journey?

One of the most significant milestones for us is the introduction of the ThinkPad brand 700c, in the year 1992. It was the first laptop with a thin film translator display. Then in the year 2000, we totally redesigned the ThinkPad series, wherein our focus was to give the customers consistency in terms of the positioning of ports, keyboard design, etc. And this year, ThinkPad stands having sold 60 million units and Lenovo has also introduced the ThinkPad Edge series for the SMB segment.

If you look at our business in the last five years, we have expanded our product line into more different segments and in many more different markets. This obviously shows that we have made a lot of progress in meeting the needs of our customers and the market as a whole.

Looking forward, five years down the line, we want to be at the #1 position in the commercial notebooks segment.