CES 2017 round-up

The consumer is king as Lenovo listens

Mr Bhatia showing off the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon business laptop at CES 2017 in Las Vegas last week. The Legion Y720 gaming laptop (left), which came about as a result of constant customer interaction, and the New Glass C200 (below), a pair of sma
Mr Bhatia showing off the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon business laptop at CES 2017 in Las Vegas last week. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN
Mr Bhatia showing off the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon business laptop at CES 2017 in Las Vegas last week. The Legion Y720 gaming laptop (left), which came about as a result of constant customer interaction, and the New Glass C200 (below), a pair of sma
The Legion Y720 gaming laptop (above), which came about as a result of constant customer interaction, and the New Glass C200, a pair of smart glasses that mixes augmented reality with artificial intelligence.PHOTOS: LENOVO
The Legion Y720 gaming laptop, which came about as a result of constant customer interaction, and the New Glass C200 (above), a pair of smart glasses that mixes augmented reality with artificial intelligence.
The Legion Y720 gaming laptop, which came about as a result of constant customer interaction, and the New Glass C200 (above), a pair of smart glasses that mixes augmented reality with artificial intelligence.PHOTOS: LENOVO

The customer has a major say in the products that the company decides to produce

Lenovo is probably better known as a PC company that produces ThinkPad laptops.

However, it wants to be more than just a laptop or PC company. It intends to have a broad spectrum of products that helps to address every customer's requirements, according to Mr Ken Wong, Lenovo Asia-Pacific's president.

"You cannot have just one device to satisfy everyone," he said.

At CES 2017, Lenovo launched a myriad of laptops, which included the ThinkPad X1 Carbon business laptop, Miix 720 two-in-one detachable hybrid laptop, Legion gaming laptops and ThinkPad X1 tablet.

Lenovo also showcased the New Glass C200, a pair of smart glasses that mixes augmented reality (AR) with artificial intelligence (AI). It is still in the prototype stage and will be for business use, with capabilities such as recognising objects to help repair works or overlaying AR content for interior designers.

Mr Wong said Lenovo is very aware that the trend is for devices to be smarter.

He revealed that Lenovo is so set on AI that it will be hiring a new chief technology officer that has a deep background in AI.

In addition, Lenovo unveiled its Smart Assistant, an Amazon Echo-like device that is powered by Amazon's voice assistant Alexa.

Smart home devices, especially those with voice assistants, are going to be prevalent worldwide in the next two to three years, according to Mr Dilip Bhatia, global marketing vice-president of Lenovo PC and smart device business group.

Mr Bhatia said that 86 per cent of customers that Lenovo talked to felt that "voice adds value".

"Voice is just so natural. You do not need to type anything and just talk to the device," he said.

Smart home appliances by Lenovo can be expected in the future with the launch of the Smart Assistant, said Mr Wong, who did not name specific products or provide a product-release timeline.

But, more importantly, Lenovo is also listening to another kind of voice - the voice of the customer.

Mr Wong said Lenovo has recently undergone a major change in philosophy. In the past, it would come up with a product and sell it to customers. But now, the company is listening to customers first before coming up with a product.

For example, the new Legion line of gaming laptops, the Y720 and the Y520, is the result of constant interaction with customers.

"We have a gaming community that tells us what it wants," said Mr Jeff Palumbo, Lenovo's global strategic gaming manager. In fact, the name Legion was also suggested by Lenovo's gaming community.

"The 2018 (gaming laptop) models will be based largely on consumer feedback," Mr Palumbo said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'The consumer is king as Lenovo listens'. Print Edition | Subscribe