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back to article Hey Lenovo, want to kill Apple? Look to Samsung hitman for tips

IBM's decision to sell its PC business to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo in 2004 seemed rather curious. Yes, hardware wasn't quite as profitable as software or services, but this was years ahead of the recession, before the advent of the iPhone and iPad; sales of PCs were ticking along and the imperial success of the netbook was …

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WTF?

Lenovo have always been top-end, well-supported, high-quality PC products. What are you suggesting? "Make it shinier"?

The ThinkPad look is classic and certainly stands the test of time better than any of Apple's offerings - those goldfish bowl Macs, that laptop that looked like a dayglo toilet seat?

Are you suggesting that Apple's puny 6% marketshare is so important that Lenovo should try to market to iTwats?

I'm confused.

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Anonymous Coward

Clearly very confuced, the ThinkPad was such a classic IBM decided to dump it while it could get a good price. It's easy to get market share, the hard part is making money. That's what is hurting your brain and making you seem like a prat.

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Coffee/keyboard

"dayglo toilet seat"

mrrrphhh ahummm... BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

;)

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Ob: Userfriendly reference

http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=19991013

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RE: iTwats

The girl over in the grafix department owes me a couple of favors (and, no, she is not into NFC either - you need to check the story on the "real" uses for NFC if you don't "get" that meaning), and I have this idea for expressing your typical Apple user as an iTwat. Hopefully I can get her to turn it into reality.

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Anonymous Coward

[citation needed]

"The South Korean company has buried the iPhone with the Galaxy"

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citation provided

http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/.a/6a00e0097e337c8833017d3f784e63970c-pi

(The final quarter is an estimate - ignore it if you agree with Mr Clarke or believe it if you agree with AC.)

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FAIL

Re: citation provided

The AC expressed no opinion. He/she simply asked for a supporting reference.

Your comment reflects on how you see the world and your comprehension skills, the AC was being neutral.

I shall now read the reference you posted ...

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FAIL

Re: citation provided

Having now read your reference, I conclude that your comprehension skills need some work.

The word "Galaxy" does not appear on that graph, so one must assume it covers ALL Samsung phones. Since Apple only make iPhones, we can safely assume the Apple graph covers ONLY iPhones.

FAIL.

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Devil

Top tip for Lenovo

Get a damned good legal team on board....

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Tip two

Offer Thinkpads with alternative OSs.

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Alert

Peaks and Troughs

Apple is riding high - and deservedly so after pretty much convincing the general public to buy touchscreen phones and tablets single-handedly. The problem is that, though Apple products are still fabulous quality devices, they are losing their cachet amongst the hip and trendy. No longer is a new product a "must have", as the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini demonstrated.

The sheer number of iPhones and iPads out there mean they no longer carry the mystique and coolness they once did. People no longer look on in envy, and may even be subject to an eye-rolling and sarcastic "my, how original you are". Whip out a Nexus 7 or a S3, on the other hand, and friends and bystanders are genuinely intrigued. [Yup, this is all anecdotal. Over the past couple of years I've had an Galaxy S2, a iPhone 4S, and Nexus 7. I've had unsolicited comments from strangers on both the non-Apple products, but not the iPhone.]

Back to the article: I don't think killing Apple is going to happen in the next decade, they have a colossal market of happy customers who will continue to buy Apple products. But I don't think they are ever going to scale the heights they've reached over the past 5 years again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Peaks and Troughs

It's called "Projection", normal people arn't sarcastic to strangers.

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Re: Peaks and Troughs

It's called the Law of Big Numbers, wherein Apple is now so large, they couldn't possibly continue their growth.

I agree thought that some of the exclusiveness has come off owning Apple products. I remember how people reacted when I showed them a titanium Powerbook, or the first iPod/iPhone. Minds were blown. Well, maybe not blown, but envy was certainly fanned. It's harder to do now, since the media will report every little titbit so that everyone already knows about the new iPhone months before it even comes out.

Maybe Apple should start a 'Vertu' line of premium kit, I'm sure all of the fashionistas will happily jump back on board.

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Re: It's called the Law of Big Numbers

No, it's called the "Law of the Over Inflated Baloon".

Inflated beyond a safe maximum - it bursts.

Like Confucious said: "One Prick, All Gone", and in Apple's case, that prick may end being Samsung.

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Re: Peaks and Troughs

It's called the Law of Big Numbers, wherein Apple is now so large, they couldn't possibly continue their growth.

What? Do you mean the Law of Large Numbers, which says that the empirical probability will converge on the theoretical probability as the number of trials increases? What does this have to do with Apple's growth?

I suppose you could make some handwaving argument about each possible sale of an Apple device being a trial, and then claim that Apple's market share corresponds to the empirical probability of Apple making a sale. But even then the LLN would only hold if the theoretical probability of Apple making a sale remains constant, which it obviously does not, since the market changes constantly under the influence of numerous variables.

Personally, I suspect Apple is approaching saturation, which (unlike the LLN) has no formal definition, but does describe an observable market effect. If that's true, Apple's growth in terms of market share in the markets where where it has a strong presence will drop dramatically. Of course if the markets themselves continue to grow, absolute sales will grow, and Apple may enter or create new markets.

And we can't expect any firm to grow vigorously forever. Keynes' Maxim ("In the long run, we are all dead") seems to hold about as well for corporations as it does for individuals.

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This post has been deleted by its author

AFAIK, Lenovo was never a low end consumer product. The only places I have ever seen them (either desktop or their laptop brethren) were corporate environments with long term maintenance and replacement contracts.

I can't remember ever seeing a Lenovo in the hands of either a consumer (private) user, or even in small businesses.

In the last 5-7 years, Dell has however made serious inroads in these large corporate environments primarily on price, but reliablility has (at least with my client base) never even been close to Lenovo's.

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I have an IdeaPad for the lounge and a ThinkPad for the computer room. Am I a bit weird?

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Quite possibly. But you have an excellent choice in computer stuff.

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They do make low-end crap, I usually buy Lenovo laptops for home use and never the high-end models since that would be overkill for my needs.

Despite the price-tag the laptops are always rock solid.

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Buy them second-hand. I haven't had any laptop but a X-series ThinkPad for several years now (X20, X40, currently X61), and haven't paid more than £130 for any of them. The X20 died after two-and-a-half years heavy use (looks like a motherboard failure), and the power socket came away from the mobo on the X40 after another two years' use - if I'd bought it new, I'd have fixed it, but I took the opportunity to upgrade to the X61 (need to take Vista off it though - it is truly crap).

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Who's the Innovation Leader Now?

Not so long ago it seemed like Apple was the leader in laptop innovation - not any more. No touch-enabled LTs, and - let's face it - nearly every LT will be touch-enabled in 2 or 3 years.

Meanwhile owners of the Yoga products love'em, and think Windows 8 is just fine,

Writing's on the wall

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Re: Who's the Innovation Leader Now?

You're wrong, Apple does have touch-enabled laptops. And they put them in the spot where it makes the most sense: the trackpad.

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Re: Who's the Innovation Leader Now?

Yep: Rather than alienate existing users with a new UI, a la Win8 TIFKAM, Apple just added gestures to the trackpad, and retained keyboard shortcuts, context menus and, shock horror, menus. If you have a application that benefits from prodding a screen (a virtual mixing desk?) either use it standalone on an iPad, or use the iPad as a control surface for a Mac (Wireless MIDI was implemented from the first iPhone onwards).

Apple may yet be shown to be smart in skipping the touchscreen laptop fad if the Leap Motion device is half as good as everyone says it is:

https://leapmotion.com/product (like a tiny finger-friendly Kinect device for £50)

MS were talking about implementing Kinect technology in laptops, but it seems they may have missed the boat to do it themselves... still, it seems they have given thought to integrating this tech with future versions of Windows ("Buy Windows 9: You DON'T have to smear your monitor!")

The Leapmotion forums are an interesting place to have a look at, since they are still collecting ideas and application-specific dev teams.

(I'm not an Apple user, but I like new things implemented well. In the meantime, I'll hold onto my mouse with lots of buttons)

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Re: Who's the Innovation Leader Now?

There is no "touchscreen laptop" fad. there is a "tablets which dock into a keyboard" fa...revolution.

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Leading in innovation only matters if the innovation matters

Just because you think touch enabled laptops are the way forward doesn't mean the world will agree with you. If they choice is forced on consumers by including them (and the associated cost) on higher end laptops as a matter of course, it wouldn't be a successful innovation anymore than 3D TV was a successful innovation. That gets included on every higher end TV whether you want it or not, but marketing surveys show few people make use of that feature. Fortunately it costs much less of the total production price of a TV than the touchscreen matrix does on a laptop.

If given a choice between getting two laptops that are otherwise identical if the buyer actually had to pay the cost difference for the touchscreen, I suspect that once the hype dies down and people realize they don't want to be touching their laptop all the time the large majority of buyers would choose the cheaper option. Given that Intel is reportedly going to MANDATE a touchscreen in the next version of the Ultrabook spec, I guess they see it as something not enough people will want so they have to force the choice upon them. No one had to mandate putting touchscreens on phones, everyone immediately realized it was better than the old way so it happened due to market demand.

Microsoft and Intel excel at tossing a bunch of features and concepts at the wall and seeing what will stick. Those that don't are quietly abandoned and forgotten, like Microsoft's three previous major tablet initiatives. A lot of people claimed that Pen Computing, Windows XP Tablet Edition and the UMPC concept were major innovations as well, but after the hype died down and they failed in the marketplace they disappeared without a trace. You may want to wait a couple years before running a victory lap for the touchscreen laptop.

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Why blame Android

Scattered throughout the article is the mention that Android is to blame, try telling that to Samsung....

What Lenovo et al must do is to learn to "Stop living on their laurels". it's no longer a manufacturers market, it's a consumer market.

Samsung are providing what their customers want, all mod cons inclused, priced correctly, reasonably well designed, very little bloatware, lots of choice.

Apple are also very successfull but with the opposite strategy. Expensive, slow feature release, excellent design, no choice.

Lenovo, Dell, HP don't seem to understand this market, they should just forget about it unless they are willing to bring something revolutionary to the marketplace.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why blame Android

"Samsung are providing what their customers want, all mod cons inclused, priced correctly, reasonably well designed, very little bloatware, lots of choice."

Wow, someone else must have made my s3 then. Jailbroke the thing to clear out most of the horrid Samsung crapware. Great hardware, but it'd be ten times better with a plain Android install, like my Nexus 7.

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Simle: make a genuinely high-end laptop and people will buy it.

Why is it so hard to find a machine these days which:

- has a decent screen (especially vertical pixel count)

- doesn't weigh too much.

- is fanless.

IBM used to sell a 15" screen at 2048x1536 pixels - how about some more of these?

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Segmentation and bundling

A high res-screen is a must-have feature for a certain segment of the market. That means manufacturers will bundle it with the most expensive pointless features they can find. The easiest way to bump the price is to insert an Intel CPU fast enough to do real time atomic bomb simulations with a leaf blower for cooling.

If you want high resolution is silence, buy something cheap and replace the LCD panel. That way you do not even suffer from a glossy screen.

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Re: Simle: make a genuinely high-end laptop and people will buy it.

Yep, that would be nice. At the high end, there was the Lenovo w700ds with two screens, a trackpad, nipple, and a Wacom digitiser. I wanted it, but it was never mainstream!

http://www.engadget.com/2008/12/21/lenovo-thinkpad-w700ds-dual-screen-laptop-details-and-pics-unear/

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Re: Segmentation and bundling

>buy something cheap and replace the LCD panel.

A link to an Instructables.com tutorial please!

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naw

Re: Simle: make a genuinely high-end laptop and people will buy it.

Yep - since widescreen TV took over the world, laptop screen ratios are just awful. Add to that M$ move to the Office Ribbon in Office 207 and you lose about a 1/4 of vertical screen. Widescreen - good for TVs but lousy for PCs and laptops.

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Anonymous Coward

IBM's decision to sell its PC business to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo in 2004 seemed rather curious.

Did it?

In the enterprise, Dell had pretty much reduced the PC and laptop to commodity items, Intel's processors were reaching the point where it was hard to tell the difference between this years model and last years model, smart phones were beginning to offer the prospect of applications on the go and Lenovo had a strong brand to make the sale worthwhile.

Has there been any negative effects of the sale?

In the various IBM customers I have worked with, they continue to use IBM servers with Lenovo desktops so it hasn't hurt IBM's server sales. As the PC market shrinks, smart phones are providing a small but increasing percentage of businesses access requirements and desktops/laptops are being used until they fail rather than being replaced on regular cycles.

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thinkpads?

I always found Thinkpads ugly and blocky. Boring black slabs of plastic with fugly lips and edges all over the place. They might have been great, but they looked awful.

Sony Vaio was always the cool, funky, powerful and expensive PC alternative to Apple. But they've really dropped the ball - their stuff now is thick and plasticky even though some of the colours are still quite funky.

The PC market is really crying out for someone to build high end laptops which are thin, solid and well spec'd but look distinctive and cool without having to look like Macbooks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: thinkpads?

Curious that both Apple and VAIO stuff was aimed at video production professionals... I've just looked at the VAIO Z with the external GPU docking station... No option for anything higher than 1920x10280 though.

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Joke

Re: thinkpads?

"No option for anything higher than 1920x10280 though."

I dunno that's some way beyond retina, vertically at least. :-p

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Anonymous Coward

Re: thinkpads?

No option for anything higher than 1920x10280

Blimey! that must be one hell of a screen.

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Re: thinkpads? @cap'n

I think that it depends on whether you are a form-follows-function person or not.

Thinkpads are functional. There is little wasted weight or space, the screens and keyboards are/were the best in the business, they are not too bulky, and they will suffer the day-to-day wear and tear that a road warrior will put them through. And there is nothing in their design that makes them unpleasant to use. The lips and edges you talk about are all deliberately engineered so that when shut, they all lock together, so there is not too much strain put on the hinges. Seen many Thinkpads with broken hinges? No, I didn't think so.

Add to this an engineering, maintenance and warranty strategy that means that they will can and will be fixed if they break in warranty, and have the full maintenance manuals available for third party maintainers to fix them when they are out of warranty, with a large pool of donor systems for parts means that they have an extended 2nd and 3rd user lifetime where you will still see 6-7 year old Thinkpads in regular use (my T30 has a manufacturing date of 2005, and the A20 which runs as my linux firewall is even older).

I'm sure that it you look, you will still be able to buy brand new OEM batteries from one of the auction sites for any Thinkpad built this century. Try that for a decade old Dell or HP.

Of course, if style is more important, then a Sony Vaio or any of the Ultra books will do the job, but don't expect them to have the same life expectancy. But if you are after style, it does not matter if it breaks after 12 months, because you will probably be replacing it for the latest 'shiny' toy anyway.

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Re: thinkpads?

I have used Thinkpads for years as I work for IBM (hence anonymous posting).

They never looked sexy (unless you like that matt brushed plastic effect), but they were bloody good workhorses. Our replacement cycle was every three years and we carried them everywhere and used them all day. They got battered, dropped, picked up with their lids open and abused in so many different ways. Yet they kept on working. Dropping sugery drinks on the keyboard tended to break them but the keyboards are easy to replace.

I've worked with consultants from lots of different companies and we all have laptops, the Thinkpads would be a little grey or shiny in places but the Dell's and Fujitsu laptops would have duct tape on them to keep them going.

I can't recall ever seeing a Sony Vaio in business use, but once had to try and make one work for a friend. Wasn't a fun time, but that could have been a specific model, so shouldn't generalise. After their rootkit episode I've never touched one since.

So I suppose the Thinkpads of the world are the Volkswagon Golfs or Skoda Superb's. Not that flash but good, solid and reliable. The Mac's are the Mazda MX5's and the Sony Vaio the Kia's.

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Re: thinkpads?

>1920x10280

Ooops! That was a typ... no it wasn't, it was my design for a monitor that can display graphs of hugely varying dependent variables without using logarithmic scales!

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Trollface

Re: thinkpads?

1920x10280? That's one heck of a tall screen!

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Re: thinkpads?

I always found Thinkpads ugly and blocky. Boring black slabs of plastic with fugly lips and edges all over the place.

Exactly how a computer ought to look, as far as I'm concerned. It's a tool, not an objet d'art. I'd pay extra for a laptop that doesn't "look distinctive and cool".

Kids, lawn, etc.

Mine's the one with the shaking cane.

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Apple & Lenovo

Are Apple and Lenovo competitors?

Would someone who buys an expensive MacBook Pro be someone who would also buy an expensive ThinkPad? And vice versa? In my experience, the two camps have been neatly divided in two.

Or is it a question of whether Apple and Lenovo are competitors yet?

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Re: Apple & Lenovo

Very good question.

In my house, we have a profusion of Apple gears (iPhones, iPods, MBA, weirdly no iPad) but the only things non-Apple my kids have been asking for is a Yoga.

Over Christmas we have been testing various ultrabooks with touchscreens and both my 9 and 15 years old found them stupid.

In my daughters words "it looks like a Macbook Air, why not just buy another mac"

In my son words "I hate it when people touch my screen, i don't want to do it all the time, it's rubbish".

I might get them the Yoga rather than an iPad (5th gen, I want slim), but i certainly won't be buying a touchscreen laptop or Desktop.

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Re: Apple & Lenovo

>In my son words "I hate it when people touch my screen, i don't want to do it all the time, it's rubbish".

I eat my words: I've suddenly decided that I DO want a touchscreen on my laptop... purely so the next time someone prods it whilst discussing whatever its displaying, it flashes up a messages saying "Please don't touch the screen". That is all.

My last boss took a permanent marker to one of his monitors, and he was then surprised white spirit wouldn't shift it. I managed to find a can of deodorant before he laid his hands on his tub of acetone.

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Anonymous Coward

"the cuckoo in the nest that's eating PC-makers from the inside out"

An impressively mixed metaphor, chapeau!

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Their Problem is

Windows

=boring by they the consumers

Go on canonical, give them a call

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Re: Their Problem is

You have, I think, hit the nail on the head. Innovation in the last few years has meant driving down the cost of components so that CPU speed, RAM and HDD capacity go up. But nothing particularly innovative in as much as it does something the last model didn't.

Windows is a huge anchor. I use it all the time and I'm not suggesting it doesn't have it's uses but even Microsoft are admitting with W8 that a new UI is needed. I find W7 very usable and it's certainly a solid performer at work having replaced XP successfully. But in the concept is it really that different from Windows 3.1? Not really. Same concept of windowing, file management and applications. For the PC market to revive it needs to look at what it's customers are doing and then look to be a part of that. At home I've not had a PC for years now. My Xbox 360 fills the media hub\gaming needs, the iPad the internet browsing. What can a PC do that I, need that I can't do with these devices? This is the question they need to ask and answer.

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