Take a look at our
ThinkPads.com HOME PAGE
For those who might want to contribute to the blog, start here: Editors Alley Topic
Then contact Bill with a Private Message

Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

T430 and later, plus T530 and later series specific matters only
Post Reply
Message
Author
chwang
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:27 pm
Location: Brea, CA

Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#1 Post by chwang » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:29 pm

Here's my analysis and points on why the Old school ThinkPad is gone forever, don't expect the business-centric ThinkPad to ever return. Period. Here's the main cause of the ThinkPad "changes".

CEO ousting:

In 2009, the CEO of Lenovo resigned. The main culprit according to analysts was lack luster and declining sales year over year. 2009 was the year the T400 was released. (I would consider the T43's probably the last of the true "IBM" ThinkPads in terms of industrial design)

In 2012, the CEO announced at a conference (forgot which conference, and did a quick search but couldn't find it, if anybody else remembers please help) that they were planning to make the "ThinkPads" brand more consumer friendly, and the "Lenovo" brand more business friendly. He was pretty much saying that they'll take the "niche" Business oriented ThinkPad out of the Business world and move them toward consumers. And move the consumer friendly "Lenovo" (think of it as the IdeaPad brand).

My Reaction/Analysis (I'm a Support Analyst for our company, I do system analysis, data crunching etc.)

I was so shocked and confused, but I knew that was the end of the ThinkPad (my idea of the Thinkpad: the Ultimate Business Machine). I had an inkling as they changed the business friendly 7 row keyboard, to the 6 row. The reason that was not a good news is because business users (heavy users of excel, powerpoint, OTHER business software) rely a LOT on the F# function keys, and you can't touch type F5 with all the F-keys stuck together, and even if you glance down, it is much easier to find the F# keys with the separation.

The other changes such as NO NUM LOCK on keyboard, NO "Break" key, etc. The speed typing UN-friendly island keys (don't tell me the keys are good/improvement unless you can type at least 150WPM with accuracy. If you type fast you'll understand how an INCREASE in the surface area (FACE) of the keys makes accidentally pressing adjacent keys together more likely, because your "home" key fingers will move left and right more than smaller face keys)

Weeks after the CEO made public the business changes, they announced the T431s, the one without the TrackPoint buttons. AKA, "who cares about our faithful ThinkPad users! We weren't making any sales to you guys anyways!"

The T440:

It doesn't have a multi-bay meaning you can't have a 2nd hard drive, you don't have a CD/DVD drive. Goodbye Business machine. How do I know this? Our company (a multi-BILLION dollar biotech firm) with over 10,000+ employees throughout the USA alone and had IBM/Lenovo systems since... forever, will not be purchasing the next Generation Thinkpads. This year we probably ordered around 1000+ laptops, about 75% T430, 20% W530 (for our SolidWorks, and Software Developers), 5% X230 (Traveling Managers, Execs).

We had a corporate sale in 2010, and our parent company tried to convince us to use what they use (DELL), and we outright refused... but I guess what Corporate Politics couldn't do, Lenovo did it.

Positives:
+ internal battery + external, this is a great step for business users
+ hey! look at that, they created a GAP between the F4-F5 and F8-F9... too late.

Business Negatives:
- no more dock? (I think they have chosen to go to the USB dock *laugh*), if they have a dock, scratch that.
- No CD/DVD Bay. Smaller companies might easily be able to transition from CD to Flash Drive, but 70 year old companies (usually older gigantic corporations use ThinkPads anyways) will not be able to transition.
- changed power adaptor... so all our power adapters since the T60 needs to be trashed (they did change it back in 2007-ish from T43 to T60, so not as unusual as the above two)
- who knows what else, as I haven't seen the system. The analyst in charge of this project probably knows more, and very valid reasons for moving AWAY from Lenovo now.

Conclusion:
ThinkPad moved away from BUSINESS oriented because it was not making money, and it WILL keep going the consumer way because their finances make sense. Their financials were NEGATIVE until 2011 when they lost $96 Million, they had a net gain of $10 million in 2012, and a whooping gain of $298 million in 2013.

So it doesn't matter what we cry about, the consumers are buying. It'll be interesting to see how they fare in 2014 when most likely MANY MANY Corporations will move away from ThinkPads. If they lose enough money they might come to a mid-point. But I definitely see ThinkPads trying to compete with MacBook Air/Pro's as that's an EXPENSIVE high end market.

Good Luck Lenovo. I'd hate to use a DELL though... ugh...

pianowizard
Senior ThinkPadder
Senior ThinkPadder
Posts: 8519
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 5:07 am
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#2 Post by pianowizard » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:01 pm

chwang wrote:Their financials were NEGATIVE until 2011 when they lost $96 Million, they had a net gain of $10 million in 2012, and a whooping gain of $298 million in 2013.
Very interesting numbers. IBM's Thinkpad division also lost millions of dollars every year during the T4* era, when Thinkpads were true business-oriented machines. From Lenovo's perspective, it is smart to consumerize Thinkpads. It would be stupid for Lenovo to keep making "real" Thinkpads and losing tons of money per year.
chwang wrote:Good Luck Lenovo. I'd hate to use a DELL though... ugh...
I don't know what Dell laptops you have seen. These days, Dell's Precisions laptops are more "Thinkpad-like" than the Thinkpads. BTW, you may also want to look into Panasonic's business-class Toughbooks, and HP's Elitebooks.
HP Pavilion x2 12-b096ms (12.0" 1920x1280, Core M3-6Y30, 3.14lb); Microsoft Surface 3 (10.8" 1920x1280, Atom x7-Z8700, 2.00lb)
Dell OptiPlex 5040 SFF (Core i5-6600)
Acer ET322QK, T272HUL; Bolva 40BL00H7; Crossover 404K; Monoprice 10734; QNIX QHD2410R; Seiki Pro SM40UNP

ThinkRob
Senior ThinkPadder
Senior ThinkPadder
Posts: 2394
Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 9:54 am
Location: near RTP, NC

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#3 Post by ThinkRob » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:09 pm

pianowizard wrote: Very interesting numbers. IBM's Thinkpad division also lost millions of dollars every year during the T4* era, when Thinkpads were true business-oriented machines. From Lenovo's perspective, it is smart to consumerize Thinkpads. It would be stupid for Lenovo to keep making "real" Thinkpads and losing tons of money per year.
Even more to the point: the PC division was basically in the red for most if not all of its entire existence. From what I've been told by a couple ex-IBMers it was such that they celebrated on the year(s) that they broke even. I guess from a business standpoint Lenovo's done well, although the geek in me is not happy with all the ways they've achieved profitability...

The only major complaints I have with modern ThinkPads are ones that I'm afraid no business *or* consumer cares about, namely:

- their UEFI implementation is buggy in a number of ways, and they don't seem to care (this is a trend across all of Lenovo's Think* products though, not just ThinkPads)
- they keep changing how the special-purpose keys work which makes for more work for Linux driver authors
- the bloody MiniPCIe whitelist

Problem is, Dell's just as bad on the first two fronts, and the last point isn't enough to make me want to switch (especially since Dell's industrial design is... somewhat schizophrenic at best), and I refuse to by HP products on principle.
Need help with Linux or FreeBSD? PM or catch me on IRC: I'm ThinkRob on FreeNode and EFnet.
Laptop: X270, running Fedora
Desktop: Intellistation 285 (currently dead)
Workstation: owned by my employer ;)
Toy: Miata!

chwang
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:27 pm
Location: Brea, CA

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#4 Post by chwang » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:26 pm

Yeah, didn't bother digging deeper to know what their financials were before the 2011 year but probably bad. And lenovo laptopss are looking nicer (I actually like the look of the IdeaPad, if it's just for casual use).

True, haven't seen a Dell Business laptop for couple of years.

Personally, I've been using Fujitsu's for a couple of generations, and been using an X201 and T430 at work/travel. I'm thinking on replacing my fujitsu to the new MacBook Pro though. Prices are really good now that the OTHER companies are trying to match Apple in design/quality... they look closer to MBP's in design AND price lol.

Whatever system our CIO decides to go, I'll probably go kicking and screaming holding on to my T430 (actually, T430 easier to let go than the X201)... hopefully Lenovo wakes up in 2-3 years so our company buys Lenovo's again lol (not likely)

AnakiMana
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:56 pm
Location: Richland, WA

#5 Post by AnakiMana » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:04 pm

What about the T440p? It has the optical drive. Would it allow for a 2nd hard drive?

Hopefully three things will bring Lenovo back to better designs, at least for one line of models so they can continue to profit as they currently are: 1) loss of business from large companies, 2) listening to feedback from us & those large customers, and 3) deeper pockets will allow them to diversify back to better designs, at least for one line of models. I'm sure a lot of time and money needs to be invested into the better designs. And you know the engineers have to want the best but are held back by management.

I have mixed feelings about internal optical drives myself. I like knowing it's there, but don't use it a lot and external slim & portable ones can be picked up for less than $40 and a single drive could then be used by all my laptops... Universal... Slip it in the bag.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk

ajkula66
SuperUserGeorge
SuperUserGeorge
Posts: 16709
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:28 am
Location: Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania, USA

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#6 Post by ajkula66 » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:10 pm

pianowizard wrote:
I don't know what Dell laptops you have seen. These days, Dell's Precisions laptops are more "Thinkpad-like" than the Thinkpads. BTW, you may also want to look into Panasonic's business-class Toughbooks, and HP's Elitebooks.
Agreed 10,000%.

While there is no such thing as a perfect laptop, my top pick would likely come from one of these manufacturers.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

FlexView AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF, X60T

Abused daily: T520, X200s


PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

SkiBunny
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 520
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:51 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#7 Post by SkiBunny » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:50 am

pianowizard wrote:These days, Dell's Precisions laptops are more "Thinkpad-like" than the Thinkpads. BTW, you may also want to look into Panasonic's business-class Toughbooks, and HP's Elitebooks.
chwang wrote:It'll be interesting to see how they fare in 2014 when most likely MANY MANY Corporations will move away from ThinkPads.
Indeed. Since the end of the 420/520 series, even IBM has moved away from ThinkPads, at least for North America. But the employee purchase program remains in place, so far.
W530 2447HU5 | W520 428424U | T520 4243WD1 | T520 4243B37 | T420 4180AC7 | W500 4063GW2 | W500 406333U | X60 170997U | T60 1951A31 | T43 266889U

Ibthink
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 810
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:28 am
Location: Gelnhausen, Germany

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#8 Post by Ibthink » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:16 am

The T440:

Business Negatives:
- no more dock? (I think they have chosen to go to the USB dock *laugh*), if they have a dock, scratch that.
- No CD/DVD Bay. Smaller companies might easily be able to transition from CD to Flash Drive, but 70 year old companies (usually older gigantic corporations use ThinkPads anyways) will not be able to transition.
Sorry, but this is nonsense:

- All T440 models have a DockingPort except the T440s and T440 with nVidia, but they are not on sale in North America, so T440(s) (iGPU models) and T440p (all models) all have the new DockingPort
- There is no CD/DVD drive available on the T440, but there is one on the new T440p, as this one replaces the T430 as their classic "thick-and-more heavie model" with 16 GB RAM and Quad-Core CPUs
In 2012, the CEO announced at a conference (forgot which conference, and did a quick search but couldn't find it, if anybody else remembers please help) that they were planning to make the "ThinkPads" brand more consumer friendly, and the "Lenovo" brand more business friendly. He was pretty much saying that they'll take the "niche" Business oriented ThinkPad out of the Business world and move them toward consumers. And move the consumer friendly "Lenovo" (think of it as the IdeaPad brand).
Thats incorrect:

- They never said they will use the Lenovo brand to compete in the Business-market
- They have said that they will intoduce new High-End devices under the ThinkPad brand, theat not only compete in the business market, but also in the high-end consumer and prosumer markets. Basically, they have the new ThinkPad S-line (S440/S540) and other high-end models like the X1 Carbon (and the successor) to do that. X240, T440(p), T540p, W540 and the L-Series are still focused only on the Business marekt.
In 2009, the CEO of Lenovo resigned. The main culprit according to analysts was lack luster and declining sales year over year. 2009 was the year the T400 was released. (I would consider the T43's probably the last of the true "IBM" ThinkPads in terms of industrial design)
He was forced to resign. Basically, because Lenovo did depend to much on the Business-Market, which was declining at this time (financial crisis).
- changed power adaptor... so all our power adapters since the T60 needs to be trashed (they did change it back in 2007-ish from T43 to T60, so not as unusual as the above two)
They have adapters for this available, so you wont have to trash your power-adapters
IBM ThinkPad R50e | lenovo ThinkPad X301 | lenovo ThinkPad Z61t

ssd_thinkpad
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 872
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:45 am
Location: France Paris

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#9 Post by ssd_thinkpad » Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:23 am

My T440s has a docking connector and lenovo targets it as the premium T440 series model (FHD VA display, lightweight, mostly similar functionality: two battery system, same keyboard, expensive build).

lead_org
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 691
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:31 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#10 Post by lead_org » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:03 am

The Current CEO was one of first batch of Lenovo employee that worked for Legend (the former name for Lenovo), so he knows about Lenovo DNA since he has worked for Lenovo for more than 20 years. Also, the current Lenovo CEO used his personal funding to take up a huge chunk of Lenovo share option. I would think that he is pretty serious about Lenovo and its long term prospect to be making such financial bet using his own funds.

Also change will always happen whether we like it or not. Business world is evolution on steroid. Just look at how many IT companies disappeared, because they would not change with time until too late.
Current ThinkPad: T430u, T430s, X1 Carbon, X1, X230t, X220t, X230, X220, X201t, W520, W701ds, T500, T420 and many more

TTY
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 532
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:39 pm
Location: graz, austria

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#11 Post by TTY » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:27 pm

chwang wrote:Their financials were NEGATIVE until 2011 when they lost $96 Million, they had a net gain of $10 million in 2012, and a whooping gain of $298 million in 2013.
chwang wrote:Yeah, didn't bother digging deeper to know what their financials were before the 2011 year but probably bad
OK, here are the profit numbers for Lenovo since 2005 (millions):

2005 HK$ 1,092.323
2006 HK$ 215.812
2007 US$ 161.138
2008 US$ 485.157
2009 US$ -226.389
2010 US$ 129.368
2011 US$ 273.236
2012 US$ 475.416
2013 US$ 631.592

In the fiscal year 2008/2009 they had a loss, and all the other years in the period they were profitable.

28CarsLater
Freshman Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:01 pm
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#12 Post by 28CarsLater » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:49 pm

I just ordered a Precision 4800 (and my company is a Dell shop regardless) but Precision is the only Dell I would personally spend dime one on. The Latitude they saddled me with is most unimpressive, esp given its the top tier Lat in 2011, at work I pined for my R60 (at home) or my old Precision M90 (at my previous job, technically similar to the R). From here on out it might be have to be used Thinkpad or new Precision for professional folks.
Primary: Split between a T430S and a Precision M4700.
Laying around: X300(s), R500, R60
In various states: X301(s), W701, misc T/R500s

pianowizard
Senior ThinkPadder
Senior ThinkPadder
Posts: 8519
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 5:07 am
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#13 Post by pianowizard » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:57 pm

ThinkRob wrote:Even more to the point: the PC division was basically in the red for most if not all of its entire existence.
I just dug up this article, published shortly after IBM had sold its PC Division to Lenovo: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/31/techn ... .html?_r=0 . It mentions these profit numbers:

2001: -$397 million
2002: -$171 million
2003: -$258 million
2004 through June 30th: -$139 million

The first sentence in this article seems to imply the year 2000 was profitable though: "I.B.M. said yesterday that the personal computer business it was selling to the Lenovo Group of China had not made a profit for three and a half years."
TTY wrote:OK, here are the profit numbers for Lenovo since 2005 (millions):
For Lenovo *the entire company*, not just their PC or Thinkpad division.
HP Pavilion x2 12-b096ms (12.0" 1920x1280, Core M3-6Y30, 3.14lb); Microsoft Surface 3 (10.8" 1920x1280, Atom x7-Z8700, 2.00lb)
Dell OptiPlex 5040 SFF (Core i5-6600)
Acer ET322QK, T272HUL; Bolva 40BL00H7; Crossover 404K; Monoprice 10734; QNIX QHD2410R; Seiki Pro SM40UNP

TTY
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 532
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:39 pm
Location: graz, austria

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#14 Post by TTY » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:20 pm

pianowizard wrote:
TTY wrote:OK, here are the profit numbers for Lenovo since 2005 (millions):
For Lenovo *the entire company*, not just their PC or Thinkpad division.
The annual reports don't contain earnings numbers for single divisions. I doubt they publish such information at all.

Ibthink
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 810
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:28 am
Location: Gelnhausen, Germany

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#15 Post by Ibthink » Sat Oct 26, 2013 6:52 am

pianowizard wrote:
TTY wrote:OK, here are the profit numbers for Lenovo since 2005 (millions):
For Lenovo *the entire company*, not just their PC or Thinkpad division.
Well, at least in the first years their business was extremly Think- and business-focused. IdeaPads were introduced in 2008, their first year with a loss. Also, their Smartphone business in China became really profitable this year, which means from 2010-2012 it did not bring them any major profite.

I think their "Think"-business unit is profitable again since 2010.
IBM ThinkPad R50e | lenovo ThinkPad X301 | lenovo ThinkPad Z61t

systemBuilder
Sophomore Member
Posts: 216
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2005 5:11 am
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Re: Death of the ThinkPad, an Analysis

#16 Post by systemBuilder » Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:04 am

pianowizard wrote:Very interesting numbers. IBM's Thinkpad division also lost millions of dollars every year during the T4* era, when Thinkpads were true business-oriented machines. From Lenovo's perspective, it is smart to consumerize Thinkpads. It would be stupid for Lenovo to keep making "real" Thinkpads and losing tons of money per year.
It may have been true that IBM lost money on T4x machines, but think of this : their supplier made enough money to BUY OUT IBM after that blood-letting, I think it's likely that the combo of IBM + Lenovo made some pretty big money on these machines, Lenovo simply kept all the profits to themselves and used the money to buy out the stake in the brand from IBM ...
=======================
Lots of thinkpads (10+) but I would never be so stupid as to list them all because that would spam everybody's searches and people who *do* try to list them all would be jerks.

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “ThinkPad T430-T490 / T530-T590 Series”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests