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Lenovo Bets on Innovation And Wins.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on May 23, 2007

It’s great to see Lenovo’s profits jumping for the most recent fiscal year because it is one of China’s—and the world’s—most innovative companies. Absorbing IBM’s ThinkPad unit proved problematic for Lenovo but it appears to have down what had to be done to move to profitability. It’s US unit went into the black last year. And, of course, Lenovo is one of the top brands in the huge China market. Acer, the Taiwanese-based computer maker, nudged Lenovo out of third place in the global rankings last year in terms of sales, but Lenovo apparently traded market share for profits.

I know the Lenovo Group’s chief designer, Yao Yingjia, have toured its Beijing campus, and know it has some amazingly innovative laptops set for release over the near horizon. Lenovo does detailed ethnographic research, one of the few Chinese companies that understands how important it is to deeply know their customers. A few years back, Yao and his team realized that Chinese families usually had one computer for kids and parents. They put a simple dial on the PC so that the kids could turn to their settings for games and school while parents could turn to their settings for whatever they wanted to do. A simple dial. Think of that.

ZIBA Design out of Portland, Oregon, did some terrific customer research for Lenovo that we ran verbatim in Inside Innovation a few months back. The research won a 2006 gold award from the Industrial Designers Society of America. Check out the personas they came up. Amazing.
Lenovo is also moving the look and feel of its laptops away from commodity-type conventional boxes toward more individual, fashion-based objects of art. Why not? We’re carrying screens around with us all the time now.

And there are more surprises to come, Yao tells me.

Reader Comments


May 25, 2007 8:53 PM

A simple dial.
There is brillance in simplicity. So often we look for complicated answers to simple problems. Other designers could have opted for a software solution with some sort of AI.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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