With Lenovo’s founder retiring, what's next for the company that bought IBM's computers and Motorola's phones?
Lenovo is preparing a ThinkPad with a foldable screen, VR headsets, 5G edge computing and IoT devices
The man who founded the world’s biggest PC maker is retiring -- for the third time.
Liu Chuanzhi announced on Wednesday that he’s stepping down from his role as chairman of Lenovo parent company Legend. As a member of China's first generation of entrepreneurs, the 75-year-old started Lenovo 35 years ago in Beijing with computer scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an investment of 200,000 yuan.
Over the years, Lenovo has seen ups and downs, which explains why Liu returned from retirement twice: Once in 2009 after the company suffered heavy losses and again in 2014 when he took up Legend’s chairmanship.
As Liu steps back from the front line, here’s a look at what Lenovo has in store for consumers in the coming years.
Foldable smartphones finally made their debut this year, and now it looks like foldable computers are coming soon, too. Lenovo presented its first foldable PC in May, saying it’s planning to launch a finished device in 2020 as part of its premium ThinkPad X1 brand. Lenovo sees this as the ultimate work tool: You can take it on your commute to check emails or take notes.
Lenovo’s Motorola smartphones have also turned bendy. The brand rebooted its iconic clamshell design with the foldable Razr in November.
VR and AR
Much like other big hardware tech companies, Lenovo sells its own VR headsets. They include Mirage Solo, which is the first standalone VR headset for Google's virtual reality platform Daydream. There’s no need to hook it up to a computer. The company also has the Lenovo Explorer Headset, which works with Windows Mixed Reality.
But the company has another concept that's more work than play. The Lenovo AR Concept Glasses are meant to help workers access virtual workspaces while on the road. It's small enough to carry around and wear in public, and it’s designed to give you privacy while viewing your work emails (or other stuff).
Lenovo has been providing data center hardware since the company acquired IBM's server business in 2014. These days, however, it's been building up other related tech offerings, including edge computing for telecommunication companies that are implementing 5G.
The combination of edge computing and fast 5G networks is supposed to cut the latency in data processing to a minimum. This can be applied to many different products including IoT. Think of it this way: You may soon be able to have an immersive VR experience just by using a mobile cellular network, no need for Wi-Fi.
More laptops and IoT
We are likely to see more interesting notebook concepts in line with the bendable Yoga and the foldable ThinkPad. The company has also been making gaming notebooks for a while under the brand Legion. Its next plan is to become the top player in gaming notebooks, up from the top three in 2019 and the top six in 2018, according to Ken Wong, president of Lenovo Asia-Pacific.
But Lenovo is also going into smart devices and IoT. So far, the company doesn’t have much to show in terms of devices: There are lightbulbs, clocks and sockets. Hopefully, there's more to come.