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Lenovo to tweak ThinkPad name

CEO-designate Stephen Ward sheds light on a branding touch-up. Also: From Hong Kong to New York.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--The IBM ThinkPad brand is scheduled to get a slight nip and tuck.

Stephen Ward

Lenovo will slightly modify the "IBM ThinkPad" brand in the relatively near future, said Lenovo CEO-designate Stephen Ward on Monday at PC Forum, which is taking place here this week. (PC Forum is owned by CNET Networks, the publisher of

"They will be called 'IBM ThinkPad' for a short period in the future," Ward told the audience. "We are trying to decide whether it will be called 'ThinkPad' or 'Lenovo ThinkPad.'"

Also scheduled for a change is the "Access IBM" button on the top row of the ThinkPad, which allows a user to connect directly to IBM's service desk. In the future, it will be labeled "ThinkVantage."

In addition, Ward said, Lenovo will try to get its stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Right now, shares are traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The branding twist underscores the changes that will likely occur when the deal between Big Blue and China's biggest PC maker, formerly known as Legend, concludes in the second quarter. IBM is selling its PC unit to Lenovo and will become one of the largest stockholders in the company.

Lenovo will begin to ship products worldwide, and the worldwide product launch will very likely include many of the consumer PCs Lenovo sells in China, where the company currently sells the vast bulk of its PCs.

The appearance of a new brand from a large company could put pressure on Hewlett-Packard, currently the dominant brand on store shelves in the United States.

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IBM abandoned the consumer market a few years ago, so when the first Lenovo PCs hit U.S. shelves, the event could be looked at as the re-entry of IBM (or at least a former subsidiary of IBM based in North Carolina) into this market.

Ward and other executives have said that the underlying technology and quality of the ThinkPad will not erode. Since the sale of IBM's PC unit was announced late last year, analysts have said that IBM could lose some customers who are worried about the deal.