Friday, April 2, 2010

Why Corporate PC’s Still Matter

Jay McBain, Director of Small and Medium Business, Lenovo
After announcing the ThinkPad T400s last week it got me thinking about the differences between corporate PC’s versus there consumer counterparts. Since 1992, the ThinkPad has represented the gold standard in Notebook quality, durability, security, and innovation. The most recent announcement added to the very successful T Series line of products aimed at corporate road warriors.
The T400s borrowed some of its design cues from the X300 family of products that launched in 2008. BusinessWeek at the time ran a cover story naming the X300 the “Perfect Laptop”. This was right around the time that another PC vendor announced an ultra-thin product that fit in a manila envelope in their advertising. The conclusion of the article was that while ultra-thin and light is the goal of all Notebooks, it must be balanced with usability features as well as durability considerations. This is especially true in corporate environments where having optical drives and the appropriate ports available is necessary to be productive.
The T400s took the “Perfect Laptop” to the next level, first by offering a larger 14” (1440x900) WXGA+ LED display. It also includes an ultra-thin (9.5mm) optical drive which supports Blue Ray on select models. From a performance perspective, it includes high end Intel Standard Volt (SV) processors at 2.4 and 2.53GHz. Storage and Memory has been enhanced with the addition of SSD drive options and Turbo Memory.
Connectivity is robust with WAN, WLAN, WiMAX, Bluetooth and UWB. A new technology, Constant Connect, has been introduced which is a partnership between Lenovo and Research in Motion Blackberry, giving the user the ability to transmit email to and from the PC – even when it is turned off!
Security has been enhanced beyond Fingerprint Readers and encryption with the introduction of Constant Secure. This has a remote disable option for a lost or stolen laptop – rendering it unusable with an SMS text message!
Looking at the consumer market today, much of the pre-Windows 7 buzz is around multi-touch. While this feature has definite applications in photography and object manipulation, it doesn’t satisfy the core needs of the corporate PC user. Consistently, surveys of business users name security, connectivity, reliability and manageability as their key requirements in choosing a Notebook vendor. By the way, looking at enhancing the “Perfect Laptop” the T400s does support multi-touch.
Another innovation in the T400s is a slight change to the keyboard layout. Based on extensive end user research, the Escape and Delete keys have been enhanced based on usage patterns. A new Microphone Mute button has also been added based on the growth of video conferencing and Skype.
All of this fits into a package that is .83 inches thin and 3.9 pounds! This is the thinnest and lightest T Series product ever to come to market and truly takes the “Perfect Laptop” to the next level. Starting at $1,599 US for a strongly configured T400s, it is a game changer in the corporate space.
I believe we will see a greater differentiation in the future between Consumer and Corporate PC’s. One market is strictly driven on price and lowering the common denominator to a high level spec sheet, the other is driven by innovation in the areas of security, connectivity, usability, reliability and manageability.