Lenovo Makes Global Push with Self-Branded Computers

Stepping up competition in the PC industry, Lenovo Group Ltd., the world's third-largest computer maker, is introducing its first Lenovo-branded computers to be sold outside its home base of China.

The new products announced Thursday -- low-priced desktops and notebooks targeted at small businesses and consumers -- marks Lenovo's first brand foray in the United States and other countries since completing its purchase of IBM Corp.'s ailing PC business last May.

Lenovo scheduled launch events Thursday in 10 cities worldwide, including New York, Paris, and Turin, Italy, where Lenovo has been a major sponsor of the Olympics to help it expand its brand recognition beyond China.

"This is our coming-out party: The Olympics got our name out in front of the world, and these will be the brand name products we'll be introducing with that," said Jeff Dudash, a Lenovo spokesman.

With its new 3000 series of computers, Lenovo is precisely trying to return to the same target markets from which IBM previously exited to focus on selling its ThinkPad products to the higher-margin corporate sector.

"Lenovo will offer the new PCs as the smart choice for today's most savvy entrepreneurs, priced to fit the budgets and computing needs of even the smallest firms," said Deepak Advani, Lenovo's chief marketing officer.

Lenovo announced two lines of desktop computers, starting at $349, along with a laptop line that starts at $599. The products are available immediately from Lenovo's Web site and through its business partners. Dudash refused to identify any, but analysts say they will likely include retailers.

If Lenovo succeeds with such a major expansion, it could truly become a worldwide brand, just like IBM, said analyst Rob Enderle of The Enderle Group.

"It's an incredibly powerful move for a Chinese company to do," Enderle said. "But if you want to become something more, to be the next IBM, you need to be recognized worldwide and you need to get back in front of consumers and in retail."

The Lenovo C series of notebooks will be silver -- not IBM's traditional black -- weigh 6.2 pounds, and have built-in WiFi, a 3-in-1 card reader and other multimedia features. Veering from IBM's reliance on Intel Corp. chips, Lenovo's desktop computers will offer chips from both Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

With its IBM acquisition, Lenovo last year ascended to rank behind No. 1 Dell Inc. and No. 2 Hewlett-Packard Co. in worldwide PC market share, according to research firm IDC.

In the fourth quarter of 2005, Lenovo had a 7.2 percent market share, compared with Dell's 17.2 percent and HP's 15.7 percent, according to IDC.

Lenovo now is formally based in Purchase, N.Y., with principal operations in Beijing and Raleigh, N.C.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the company name in the headline.