Archive for December 9th, 2004

Goodbye Thinkpad, Hello Thinkpad

Thursday, December 9th, 2004

Like many, I have very mixed feelings about IBM’s sale of their PC division to the Chinese company Lenovo. Like many professionals, IBM’s Thinkpad is my notebook of choice. And it’s not just the features, or quality of construction. Or the incredible compatibility with everything. Or great support web site. Or excellent reliability. The real amazing thing is their technical support. Whether it was replacing a forgotten custom power cable on a few hour’s notice in Chicago, or being able to get a real person on the phone late on a Sunday night to deal with milk spilt on a keyboard, IBM provides a level of support that few if any can match.

My first thought when I heard of the deal was – so long Thinkpad. Because I couldn’t imagine that anyone else could maintain the overall quality that the brand name “Thinkpad” has earned.

But then I read their press release. Yeah, it’s the usual marketing fluff, full of nice semi-promises that don’t really mean anything. But there were a few facts that surprised me. First, that the new PC division would be headquartered in NY. Second, that an IBM VP was becoming CEO of Lenovo. Third, that IBM is maintaining a pretty significant ownership stake in Lenovo.

In other words, this looks less like Lenovo just buying the PC division and more like them trying to, in effect, become a major multinational company, like Microsoft, Sony, and dozens of others including IBM itself.

You see, the one flaw with Thinkpads is that they aren’t cheap. So it occurred to me that it’s possible, just barely possible, that this new company might be able to keep all the things that make Thinkpads so great, and just maybe do it at a lower price. Ok, I know it’s a long shot, but one can hope.

I’m going to be due for a laptop upgrade next year, and I’d really hate to start shopping around again. However, just in case – if any of you believe that another laptop line is overall as good as Thinkpad has been, I’d love to hear about it.