Jim Forbes: Notebook Makers’ Greatest Assets: R&D

My Weblog: Notebook Makers’ Greatest Assets: R&D

Jim Forbes on why R&D matters in notebooks.

"What do best selling notebook brands have in common (I mean besides healthy sales figures)? The answer is simple: they share a common trait– they’ve spring from companies that have portable specific research,development and design  projects.

The best example of this is the ThinkPad brand. For the last decade of the 20th Century I watched IBM fuel and compound the growth of  ThinkPad by adding features that came from its R&D labs and design centers.  Some of the products weren’t so successful– the Butterfly expanding keyboard on the ThinkPad 701, for example. But others propelled the brand into a name that not only had above average recognition, but which carried with an implied cachet of reliability, durability and innovation.

When IBM sold ThinkPad to Lenovo, i sincerely hoped that the vast body of ThinkPad R&D as well as related experimental design was part of the sale. Judging by the ThinkPad X- compact notebook brand, I think the R&D DNA it was transferred to Lenovo. My one big fear about Lenovo ThinkPad was that the brand would go bland, becoming yet just another notebook cranked out in Taiwan or the People’s Republic that was based on a bland formula driven by spread sheet economics. If that happens, then ThinkPad will end up joining a list of products sold at membership department store and unloaded on west coast docks from high speed ocean freighters that make the Pacific crossing in seven days. And that’s not good."

 Friday I get to tour Lenovo’s Design Center. This is going to be a candystore experience for me.

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