10th Anniversary: Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM PC business

Tomorrow we celebrate a special anniversary and a special acquisition: 10 years ago, on the 8th December of 2004, Lenovo announced the acquisition of the IBM PC Group for $1.75 billion USD. IBM and Lenovo started the discuss regarding the acquisition in 2003, and it was officially announced in 2004, the PC group operated under the Lenovo management since 2005.

Over the past 10 years Lenovo grew to become the largest PC manufacturer in the world. The 2005 acquisition marks the end of IBM as a consumer PC brand (although ThinkPads came with the IBM logo until 2008), and the beginning of Lenovo’s success story. Lets look back at some of the greatest ThinkPad-milestones since the acquisition:

  • 2005: Lenovo introduces the first ThinkPad Tablet PC, the X41t and the first Widescreen ThinkPad Series, the Z-Series.
  • 2006: An all time favorite, the T60, the first dual-core ThinkPad was introduced – it’s legendary for its rock-solid quality and FlexView IPS screens.
  • 2007: Widescreen goes mainstream with the T61.
  • 2008: Lenovo stops using the IBM logo on ThinkPads – the X300, the first ThinkPad with a Lenovo logo on the lid, Lenovo’s first thin-and-light ThinkPad flagship, and the ThinkPad that was called a “perfect laptop” by BusinessWeek, was introduced in February 2008. Another milestone was the W700ds, the first dual-screen workstation.
  • 2009: The T400s, Lenovo’s first major ThinkPad redesign, and this marked the first step towards a cleaner and thinner design for mainstream ThinkPad. It incorporated many X300 design elements in a more user friendly 14.1 inches format.
  • 2010: 60 million ThinkPad notebook sold. Lenovo introduces the ThinkPad Edge series, aimed at consumer and small business, featuring a new take on ThinkPad design (though not welcomed by all ThinkPad fans).
  • 2011: Lenovo introduced the ThinkPad X1, which was the new ThinkPad Halo product to replace the X301 model. It was also the first flagship ThinkPad to be equipped with the new Precision keyboard (chiclet style), called the “the best laptop keyboard we’ve ever tested” by Laptop magazine.
  • 2012: The new backlit 6-rows keyboard was introduced for all ThinkPads – and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon was announced, the successor to the X1 and the first ThinkPad Ultrabook – Lenovo sold 75 million ThinkPad notebooks by this day.
  • 2013: Lenovo introduced the ThinkPad Helix, the first ThinkPad notebook with detachable keyboard dock; the ThinkPad Yoga, the first ThinkPad with Yoga style 360 degrees hinge, which replaced the classic ThinkPad X-Series Tablet lineup. The T431s brought another redesign for the ThinkPad T series, which reinterpreted what modern ThinkPad design should be.
  • 2014: Lenovo announced the intention to buy IBM’s System-X x64 server business, to repeat the PC story in the server business.

The acquisition of the IBM PC business has been an incredible success story for Lenovo – when they bought the business back in 2004, the no.1 PC manufacturer goal seemed so far away. But people at Lenovo were committed to their dream and goal of becoming the no.1 global PC player, and they achived that after 8 years.

When IBM announced they would sell the ThinkPad business, there were many detractors – especially since Lenovo was a Chinese company before the acquisition and it had little international management or marketing experiences. Many feared that Lenovo would destroy the ThinkPad brand very quickly, but time proved their fear was unfounded. While the ThinkPad did change over the years, but Lenovo was very careful with changing ThinkPad design, and overall they did a good job, much better than most of the doubters would have thought in 2004. I personally am confident that Lenovo will continue to succeed with Think branded product – sure, they have made mistakes, but the important point is, Lenovo reacts quickly to their mistakes by making changes. Sometimes Lenovo had to jump the innovation curves (the glossy display of the X1, the removal of the red stripes on the TrackPoint buttons, the new ClickPad with the T431s), but they quickly corrected these design changes when customers were unhappy about it – because even if some say otherwise, they actually DO listen to their customers.

Lets hope for another successful decade of great and functional black Bento boxes (and kudos to David Hill for guarding the precious ThinkPad design)! Post in the comment section what you think, if you agree or disagree with my take on the 10th anniversary of Lenovo ThinkPad.

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