Partners patient with Lenovo

It is perhaps a mark of the drop in importance of the desktop in IBM’s universe that Dan Hinchey doubts the sale of its PC division to Lenovo will have tongues wagging at next month’s annual PartnerWorld conference in Las Vegas.

“”It’s either going to be brilliant or a big failure,”” Hinchey,

owner of a MicroAge Solutions franchise in Edmonton, said of the deal.

Hinchey, who sits on the PartnerWorld board, said his company sells “”a couple million dollars a year of IBM and Hewlett-Packard desktops. But he doubts business buyers care about whose name is on the box — as long as the quality stays high.

“”If the quality of the IBM/Lenovo product degrades, then it will matter. People expect a certain level of reliability in the corporate market. That’s the most important piece.

“”Lenovo’s got five years to prove they can continue to build that kind of reliability into their desktops, and if they do they won’t have an issue.””

HP sees chance

As the channel digests the deal, one of IBM’s biggest competitor is rubbing its hands with glee.

“”We didn’t expect customers and our partners to be calling us as quickly as they have,”” said Derek Smith, vice-president of Hewlett-Packard Canada’s personal systems group.

“”We see this as a huge opportunity for us in Canada,”” he said.

One factor going for brand-name PC makers is that the deal with the China-controlled company is that it closes in April, meaning details on products bearing the IBM brand — the rights to which Lenovo has for five years — and how it will treat partners won’t be revealed for several months.

Until then the new U.S.-based Lenovo entity won’t even exist.

Although offering no numbers, he said the uncertainty of Lenovo’s product roadmap are giving the manufacturer the opportunity to boast “”we’re here for the long haul.””

So are we, retorted Gary Isaacs, IBM Canada’s director of partners.

IBM is taking an 18 per cent stake in Lenovo, he pointed out.

“”There are significant resources from (IBM’s) PC product division moving into the new company,”” he added, including manufacturing, research and development.

Lenovo is also absorbing a good chunk of IBM’s PC sales and partner staff, including 400 from Canada.

“”The people in (Lenovo) will be the same ones the partners now work with.””

Asked if the unanswered questions about partners’ relations with the new entity is causing uncertainty, Isaacs replied, “”That’s not the feedback I’m getting.””

Partner opportunities could increase because in addition to IBM PCs, they may be able to carry Lenovo’s brand as well as other consumer electronic devices the company makes, he said.

In addition to the five-year use of the IBM name on PCs, IBM is transferring full rights to the ‘Think’ brand, which includes the ThinkPad notebooks popular among business buyers.

Among the VARs examining the deal closely is Compugen Inc., recently awarded a $38-million deal to supply PCs to the city of Toronto.

Company CEO Harry Zarek wouldn’t say if a supplier has been chosen to fulfill the huge order. But he did say any uncertainty the deal may cause won’t affect deals being worked on.

“”We’re confident that whatever agreements we have with our vendors, whether they’re IBM, HP or Toshiba, they will be honoured,”” he said. “”They will deliver on whatever commitments they’ve made.””

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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