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Lenovo unveils first addition to Think PC brand

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lenovo Group Ltd, the world’s third-biggest personal computer maker, unveiled on Tuesday its first new Think-branded products since buying the PC unit of International Business Machines Corp in 2005.

An undated handout photo of Lenovo's new S10 ThinkStation PC, released to Reuters on November 6, 2007. REUTERS/Lenovo/Handout

China’s top computer maker announced two products, the ThinkStation S10 and the ThinkStation D10, both aimed at professionals in industries such as oil and gas exploration, computer-aided design and digital content creation.

The ThinkStations run on chips from Intel Corp and will be available in January through Lenovo’s business partners and on its Web site, with the S10 starting at about $1,199 and the D10 at about $1,739.

“This is Lenovo stepping out from under IBM’s umbrella and trying to establish an identity of their own,” said Enderle Group principal analyst Rob Enderle.

He said workstations for business clients were also key for IBM, which used to market ThinkPad laptops before selling the line to Lenovo as it struggled with tough competition.

Lenovo said the National Basketball Association (NBA) and car racing team AT&T Williams Formula One are evaluating the new PCs, the first of an ongoing ThinkStation line-up.

EMERGING MARKETS

Tom Tobul, Lenovo’s emerging products director, said he expects emerging markets to account for much of the 50 percent unit growth analysts are forecasting for the workstation market in the next five years.

“Given our strong presence in China and India we believe we can capture our fair share in emerging markets,” Tobul said at a launch event at the NBA’s Fifth Avenue store.

Lenovo, which focuses primarily on business clients, said last week its quarterly earnings nearly tripled. It had an 8.2 percent share of the total PC market, followed closely by consumer-focused Acer Inc of Taiwan at 8.1 percent.

But while Lenovo retained its lead over Acer in the third quarter, analysts say Acer may have leap-frogged Lenovo with its purchase of Gateway Inc last month. Both companies trail Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc.

Enderle said Lenovo’s expected move into the consumer PC market next year would be crucial to its growth. Businesses represent about 70 percent of the PC market but consumers, which take the remaining share, are the faster-growing segment.

“Moving into the consumer market is probably what’s going to provide them with their biggest boost because they become more broad,” Enderle said.

As more businesses pay close attention to environmental concerns, Lenovo’s energy-saving focus could boost sales of its ThinkStations, which boast 80 percent power efficiency, leaving only 20 percent of electricity wasted, Enderle said.

He estimates that average industry efficiency is closer to 60 percent.

NBA, which uses high-powered computers for everything from crunching game statistics to editing video footage, did not say how many ThinkStations it would order.

But NBA game analyst Bill Walton, a former basketball star, said he could see all the NBA’s 30 teams buying the products to help with half-time game discussions.

“At least every team will have one of these,” he said.

Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Tim Dobbyn

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