Lenovo to HP: We'll Take It From Here

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Another day, another iPad competitor. This time, Lenovo is pushing a tablet that's comparably sized to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) alternative and more business-savvy than Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) now-defunct TouchPad.

The new ThinkPad tablet family will begin shipping on Aug. 30. All three options -- ranging from 16 to 64 gigabytes of storage capacity -- are based on Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android operating system, and blessed with software for managing business on the go. The news dovetails with reports that AMD (NYSE: AMD  ) has hired a former Lenovo executive to be its new CEO. Chief among AMD's concerns is getting more competitive in the mobile market itself.

Among the options is Citrix's (Nasdaq: CTXS  ) Receiver, which allows tablet users to access PC desktops remotely. Other apps include Documents to Go for working with Word, Excel, and Google Docs files, and McAfee's Mobile Security software. Add it up, and you've got a compelling package for business users. Procurement executives will surely be pleased.

Yet it may not be enough. Thanks to the Internet, cloud computing apps, and advances in data portability, consumers have never had more control over tech purchasing decisions than they do now. Who cares if my company buys PCs? So long as my Mac provides the data my managers need, the underlying platform is irrelevant. Compatibility isn't the selling point it once was.

For Lenovo, this means competing on features, functions, and price. That may be a problem. Both the iPad and peer offerings from Samsung and Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) allow for connecting to 3G (or in some cases, 4G) networks. None of Lenovo's tablets are even 3G-ready.

Worse, the company's pitch for "25 free apps" rings hollow when Apple's store holds hundreds of thousands of apps that appeal across a wide spectrum of casual and business users. Apps are the key to mobile success, and Apple is engaging developers at a level even Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) can appreciate.

A serious iPad challenger will emerge someday. Lenovo could even be the company to come up with it. They just aren't there yet. Do you agree? Disagree? Weigh in using the comments box below. And if you're in the mood for more mobile stock ideas, this free report takes an in-depth look at a company poised to reap a windfall from the rise of mobile computing. Click here to get your copy now -- it's 100% free.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Apple, and Microsoft, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (1)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 25, 2011, at 2:05 PM, inkstainedwretch wrote:

    "Who cares if my company buys PCs? So long as my Mac provides the data my managers need, the underlying platform is irrelevant. Compatibility isn't the selling point it once was."

    Maybe so to a lot of people, but there's more to using the data than just accessing it. The quality of the program matters to workflow, and MS office is still the best productivity suite out there.

    Sure Google Docs and Open Office offer a lot of the same features, but Office offers greater reliability than Open Office and capabilities than Google Docs.

    Office for Mac doesn't support access, OneNote, Visio... the list goes on...

    Office is just a great software package.

    Sure, Google is fine for basic word processing, but that's about it. Open Office is slow, especially its database software.

    Stronger integration with that ecosystem will help Thinkpad build its own network effect.

    I'm not discounting the effect of the cloud. Instead, I'm saying that great programs to create and work with the data it distributes are still a big part of the equation.

  • Report this Comment On August 25, 2011, at 4:09 PM, AgAuMoney wrote:

    This article seems to suggest that compatibility with the apple app store or a complete replacement for it is required for a tablet to succeed.

    If that is true, then apple has a monopoly on the market that needs to be broken up just like the standard oil action about 100 years ago.

  • Report this Comment On August 25, 2011, at 11:43 PM, thedubliner wrote:

    i work for lenovo myself, and i believe lenovo is and will still be focused on its bread and butter product line, which is business laptop "thinkpad", a super durable, robust, secure machine that sell at premium prices for business users.

    The lenovo thinkpad tablet line may interest business users, but that seems to me a pretty niche market compared to the consumer market iPad addresses.

    I see the thinkpad tablet as just a product line extension rather than an aggressive attack to the consumer tablet market

    I think the biggest threat to ipad will come from the soon to be release amazon tablet, not lenovo's

    Just my $ 0,02 :-)

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