Lenovo Group on Tuesday ceased to sell its premium ThinkPad X301 laptop on its web-site and while the system is still available from resellers, it is a yet another confirmation that the model is in the end of its life. The company plans to phase out one of its most advanced models ever by the end of the year in an attempt to concentrate on product lines that do not overlap.
Traditionally, IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad X-series has been targeted at frequently travelling eXecutives looking for maximum portability amid reliability and business-class capabilities. For a long time the family consisted only from 12" notebooks, which is why the launch of the ThinkPad X300 with 13.3" screen seemed a bit controversial in early 2008. However, with the introduction of the X301 model that has more powerful ultra low-voltage microprocessor, 1440x900 screen resolution, excellent materials, integrated DVD drive, renowned reliability, yet excellent portability amid the comfort of a 14" notebook, it became pretty clear that market niche is developing. In fact, many other manufacturers have introduced their 13.3" ultra-slim models in the last couple of years.
While it is clear that premium-priced ThinkPad X301 has been moderately successful due to its high price, it obviously competed both against 12.1" ThinkPad X201 laptops as well as 14." ThinkPad T401 family since it offered rather large screen and yet was very portable. Naturally, since the product is not massively popular, yet competes against other lines, Lenovo decided to phase it out, which is why it did not receive a Core i-series upgrade like the rest of the ThinkPad machines this year.
Lenovo believes that machines like ThinkPad T410s - which are both slim (1.77kg, 0.83"/21.1mm) and powerful, but which are not as slim as the X301 (1.42kg, 0.73"-0.92"/18.6mm-23.4mm) - appeal more to those, who demand high performance, whereas products with 12.1" screens are better suited for those, who demand maximum portability.
According to the company, ThinkPad X-series 12" notebooks command 45% of global business notebook market, which clearly indicates that Lenovo hardly wants internal competition. Although the number seems impressive, it should be noted that there are few manufacturers apart from Lenovo, who actually make 12" laptops for businesses.
The decision to can the ThinkPad X301 is very controversial. Without 13.3" model in the lineup, Lenovo will be unable to compete with appropriate notebooks from other manufacturers, including ultra-slim models. Moreover, with the model X301 gone, Lenovo will only be able to offer ThinkPad X100e with 11.6 display, which more resembles a netbook rather than a notebook, as well as various X201-series models, which essentially limits the choice of ThinkPad laptops to several models.