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The Lenovo Chromebook: Another Nail in Microsoft's Coffin

Why do I believe that Lenovo will now generate this crack in Microsoft's enterprise Hoover Dam? Because I hear enterprises asking for this product, that's why.

What I hear from enterprises sounds something like this: "We are ready to try Chromebooks on 10% or 20% of our employees, in lieu of Windows laptops. However, we are used to Lenovo's reputation and quality as a laptop brand, and we wish Lenovo would offer us Chromebooks."

I've been hearing this sentiment increasingly since at least August 2012. Surely these demands have been pinging Lenovo with increasing frequency.

In a few short years, Lenovo has grown from $10 billion in annual revenue to $33 billion in 2012. This doesn't happen to a company that ignores requests from its customers.

Translation: The enterprise customers started demanding Lenovo make Chromebooks in 2012, so Lenovo will provide them in 2013 and beyond.

The Lenovo Chromebooks and Chromeboxes can be powered by x86 CPUs, presumably from Intel (INTC), or by ARM processors from companies such as Nvidia (NVDA) and Qualcomm (QCOM).

On the laptop side, they will have 16 gigabytes of solid state storage, and be equipped with screens ranging in size from 11.6- to 12.5- to 13- and 14-inch models. All equipped with the legendary ThinkPad keyboard, of course.

Prices may start as low as $299, but for more premium and larger models -- also with bigger batteries -- they could reach $399 and $499. That may not sound like such a bargain, but with the zero-maintenance model of the Chromebooks it's the multi-thousand-dollar cost reduction over the next three years that counts.

When will Lenovo drop this stink bomb into Microsoft's living room? I don't know precisely, but I'm guessing May 16.

Yes, this is likely bad news for Microsoft, and perhaps the HDD and SSD vendors given the modest requirements of a Chromebook. Intel may keep a SKU, in principle, but it would be a far cheaper CPU so it is a loser, too. Companies such as Nvidia and Qualcomm may gain some share.

The obvious winner here, though, is Google.

Apple? This can't be incrementally good news for Apple, but Apple fanatics would never admit this, of course.

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