Lenovo is pushing its channel partners to expand into touch, tablet and other mobile devices, capitalizing the opportunity as Windows 8 migration increases, XP service reaches end of life and more users demand non-PC form factors.
The death of the PC is nowhere near a reality, if the numbers put up by Lenovo are any indication. After all, the company is killing it in the desktop and notebook space, holding market share in the No. 1 or No. 2 positions, according to researcher IDC. But the company also knows a new user demographic (think: Millennials) is demanding a new approach to hardware, so Lenovo is looking to make itself a powerhouse in touch, tablets and other non-traditional computing devices.
The company ushered in what it is calling the “PC+” era at its 2013 Accelerate partner event in Las Vegas, putting a heavy emphasis on the channel opportunity in its ThinkPad Twist, Helix and Tablet offerings.
“PCs are still core but we are now in the PC+ era,” said Sammy Kinlaw, executive director of channel sales, U.S., Caribbean and Central America. “We want partners to know PCs are first and we’re not moving from them, but we want to broaden our aperture. With that comes servers and touch [devices] and Windows 8.”
The market opportunity is great, noted Chris Frey, North America channel chief, especially as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows XP is nearing its end of service life. “We’ve got this entire market of companies who will need new hardware to support Windows 8,” he said.
“The channel needs help with the touch world,” he added. “With Intel’s chip change coming and XP support going away, the time is now for customers to move, and if we can teach our channel how to sell touch-enabled devices they will beat their competitors to the punch. We can help them get there.”
Until now, touch devices in the workplace depended much on the adoption of Windows 8. Jay Parker, president, Lenovo North America, said that migration is now happening. “End users and departments within a company are desiring and demanding that from IT departments,” he said. “I believe Helix will be the killer form factor and that’s the one for which we are seeing the most interest from partners.”
Helix’s form factor as both a notebook and tablet answers the multi-device mobility quandry for many customers, Parker said. “Partners say, ‘Now we don’t have to give them a tablet also. Now they don’t have to support and purchase two different devices.’”
Lenovo was quick to note it is not abandoning the PC desktop and notebook space; indeed, it is rolling out a new storage line at the end of May (the result of a partnership with EMC) to round out its solution for the SMB and small enterprise space. But it can’t discount the fact that more users are gravitating toward non-PC form factors. It’s biggest challenge will be to get its partners to recognize and capitalize on the opportunity.