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Lenovo 'innovating' better sound, video technology: Lenovo President of North America

Lenovo's President of North America, Matthew Zielinski, joined Yahoo Finance's Dan Howley to discuss why Lenovo has focused on video and audio quality for their latest models and what demand for tech will look like in 2021.

Video Transcript


DAN HOWLEY: Matt Zielinski, you are the president of Lenovo in North America. Thank you for joining us. I want to talk about what's going on with Lenovo, as far as innovations at CES 2021-- obviously this is not a normal CES-- and kind of what the company has managed to create to help people who are in this kind of new work-from-home environment that may very well outlast the pandemic itself. So I guess a starting point, what kind of analysis is Lenovo making at the show this year?

MATTHEW ZIELINSKI: Sure. Well, first of all, Dan, thanks for having me. What I will tell you is, as opposed to previous shows, we always had this theme of the hit product. Last year, as you very well know, it was the X1 Fold, which by the way, is selling very, very well. And I certainly have my three or four show favorites that we can talk about.

But what I'm most passionate about is this innovation vector around the pain points that have evolved from working from home, schooling from home, doing anything from anywhere. And to me, it's really about a lot of focus and advancements on adaptive audio and visual quality and performance. So if you think about it, everybody is wanting so badly better audio quality. People are wanting better microphone quality, people are wanting better camera quality. And think about all the hours that we spend in front of our displays. People are fatigued in wearing these $10 blue light filter glasses, because they're spending 12 hours a day in front of displays.

And so we're innovating around all these areas. We have more PCs coming out this year with blue light filtering that eliminates some of the fatigue. Everything from ThinkPad products to gaming products. Imagine how many hours a day gamers are now spending in front of their PCs versus before. If you think about an immersive video and audio experience with Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision to just have a real fantastic video quality. Think about what can happen in the world of microphone technology. So all of our ThinkPad products have anywhere from two to four far-field microphones that are now smart microphones with noise suppression, and voice recognition, and things like detection. So let's say the dog barks and your a Zoom call, or your kids start screaming, it can actually mute

The system much faster than that a human could. And in terms of camera quality and camera design, we're all trying very fast to move in a direction with a better video experience with cameras. But as the hardware there catches up, we're doing things with software around video post-processing to make sure that the image that transmits is the best image possible. Or things like human presence detection where if you walk away from your PC, your camera will basically detect that, and when you arrive back, it will power the PC back up. So just really taking to heart all the things that we've endured throughout 2020 and innovating along all those vectors into our new product lineup. That excites me the most.

DAN HOWLEY: Are you using that right now as a camera?

MATTHEW ZIELINSKI: I am using that right now as a camera.

DAN HOWLEY: It does look really good, I got to say. I know that it's been a pain point for a lot of companies as far as the webcams. Was that something that specifically you wanted to focus on at Lenovo?

MATTHEW ZIELINSKI: Look, we've always been trying to advance in innovations for the last 35, 37 years. And so we've always thought that the immersive full collaboration experience is something we had to focus on. But what 2020 has done is drastically accelerated those needs. It's accelerated the adoption of new form. In fact there's a new technology, and it's accelerated the fact that we've got to bring these things to market to make for a better experience, just because, look, smarter technology for all used to be a rally cry for us that was about innovation to unleash full potential of humanity. And that, to me, feels like a statement around good to great. Now people just need these products to live, to work, to collaborate, to communicate. And so we have to be focused as an industry to make sure that we're making those experiences as productive as possible.

DAN HOWLEY: And I guess when you look forward, where do you see the PC market going? We've seen at points where the market wasn't growing as fast. Now it's back to growth, according to the most recent numbers. Where do you see it going forward? Do you think people have realized they can't do everything they want on their smartphones because they're not going to be in the office as much? That they need to have a device of their own at home? How do you see that playing out in the next few years?

MATTHEW ZIELINSKI: So in very simple terms, 2020 changed obviously the world and it changed the industry. And we have gone from a landscape where you have one PC per home, maybe two pieces per home, to every single person in a household needing a PC to live. And that has exploded this demand throughout 2020. We've seen it most pronounced in the consumer world, in the education world, and of course anybody that's working from home has had to figure that part of it out.

What do we see go forward? We don't see that abating. In fact, we have more demand than we can possibly supply and our output is the highest it's ever been. And so we see this demand staying very robust throughout 2021. And even if it does soften a little bit on the consumer space, we still see education exploding. And we still see so many different verticals in the corporate space that took a bit of a pause last year because of larger macro factors. And as those businesses come back, and as people have to refresh deployments, we see that being very robust for the industry in '21 and beyond.

In North America, which is obviously our domain here for Lenovo. You know, we started this journey about three years ago as a very distant number 3 And now we have made significant strides being the fasting growing OEM in 2018, 2019. I had people set records in 2020. So regardless of what happens in the market, we've gone from a distant number 3 to now flirting with the number 2 position.

And the US markets the biggest market in the world. And so regardless of what happens from a macro standpoint, market-wise, I think for us, we're in a great position to capitalize on much more headroom.

DAN HOWLEY: All right. Matt Zielinski. The President of Lenovo North America. Matt, thank you so much for joining us.

MATTHEW ZIELINSKI: Dan, Thanks for having us.