Lenovo, CES 2017 and the Art of Self-Portraiture

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  January 4, 2017

Anyone who has spent time in an art history class is familiar with self-portraits by great artists, such  as Rembrandt Van Gogh and Picasso. They drew and painted their own likenesses numerous times, and many of those images are fully realized works of art that brilliantly capture a personal moment in time.

However, when an artist’s self-portraits are considered collectively, sublime issues come into play. Rembrandt’s clearly depict the inescapable, debilitating effects of time and age. Van Gogh’s catalog his descent into madness. Picasso’s offer deep insights into his artistic evolution.

I was thinking about this as I perused the umbrella announcement of Lenovo products being introduced this week at one of IT’s premiere annual technology trade events—the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017) in Las Vegas.

Why was that the case? Because the company’s new and updated products highlight the degree to which Lenovo has evolved since it became the #1 ranked PC vendor globally.

The company has long had a broader portfolio of endpoint products, including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, than many of its competitors. But this year’s offerings find Lenovo and its strategic partners assuredly venturing into new markets and use cases. That’s worth closer consideration.

Lenovo at CES 2017

So what all did Lenovo announce this week?

  • Updates to its Thinkpad family, including the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, Thinkpad X1 Yoga and the Thinkpad X1 Tablet, as well as the new Miix 720 12-inch detachable. All offer enhanced features and performance, and address the need for personal endpoints whose functions span both home and work environments. The Miix 720 leverages Intel’s seventh gen “Kaby Lake” Core i7 processors and its Thunderbolt 3 interconnect technology, and also supports Lenovo’s new Active Pen 2 for note taking and drawing.
  • A new gaming sub-brand—Lenovo Legion—with two new solutions; the Legion Y720 and the Legion Y520. Both deliver enhanced performance via Intel seventh gen Core i7 processors, 16 GB DDR4 memory and Thunderbolt 3, and also feature NVIDIA graphics and Dolby Atmos sound components.
  • A new connected home solution—the Lenovo Smart Assistant—which was built in collaboration with Amazon to optimize that company’s Alexa cloud-based voice services. The Smart Assistant can also support the new, wirelessly-enabled 6TB Lenovo Smart Storage
  • The new 500 Multimedia Controller—a wireless keyboard and mouse that fits into the palm of your hand and also functions as a Windows 10 gesture-supported, multi-touch capacitive touchpad.
  • The new Lenovo Phab 2 Pro—a smartphone that incorporates special sensors for leveraging Google’s Tango platform for virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). Tango is already being used to support new experiences in shopping, games, interior design and education via apps, such as iStaging, Matterport and Hot Wheels Track Builder

Product pricing and availability details can be found at Lenovo.com.

Final analysis

What are we to make of these new and updated Lenovo endpoints and accessories? First and foremost, that the company doesn’t see its ascendance to the #1 PC vendor spot as a unique pinnacle so much as a prime destination it intends to inhabit over the long term.

Rather than resting on its laurels, Lenovo is continuing to improve its signature Thinkpad X1 Carbon and Yoga laptops and tablets with new innovations from Intel and other components vendors. Those same innovations also power the new Miix 720. But the company is also adroitly positioning these offerings to emphasize the ever-thinning barriers between workplace and home use cases.

While there are certainly situations that require specifically designed endpoint solutions—school classrooms and call centers are good examples—more often prople are looking for products that can support whatever applications or processes they choose, inside or away from the workplace. Lenovo’s new Thinkpad and Miix solutions demonstrate that the company clearly understands and is ready to fulfill those requirements.

Lenovo’s new Legion gaming laptops and the 500 Multimedia Controller highlight how the company intends to explore new market opportunities. Gaming PCs aren’t a volume business for most vendors but their impressive margins and footprint in attractive emerging markets, like VR/AR gaming and environments show why they have drawn Lenovo’s attention. Legion should become a solid commercial addition to the company’s portfolio, and the same could be true for the 500 Multimedia Controller if or when Windows 10-based smart TVs and multimedia systems come into their own.

Finally, both the new Smart Assistant and the Phab 2 Pro offer examples of what Lenovo is gaining from creative partner collaborations designed to explore and exploit new market opportunities. The company has long pursued similar partnerships in its Data Center Group, so it’s good to see that the value of that strategy is recognized company-wide. That Lenovo is working effectively with numerous partners, like Microsoft, Amazon and Google that are also fierce competitors is testimony to the company’s maturity.

Overall, the self-portrait that emerges from these Lenovo products is one of an evolving vendor that recognizes its own strengths, can leverage that power to great effect and is a willing collaborator with innovative, complementary peers. The company isn’t alone in having those beneficial characteristics. In fact, it’s safe to say that significant endpoint vendors either have achieved or are pursuing similar characteristics. But the depth and thoroughness of Lenovo’s adoption of those virtues speaks well of its opportunities in the near term, and also bodes well for the company’s long-term prospects.

Lenovo shocked some in the industry when it took over the #1 spot among global PC vendors. If any competitors thought the company would take a breather and wait for them to catch-up, the new and updated Lenovo products announced at CES 2017 are likely to cause a reassessment of those faulty assumptions.

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