Lenovo says cloud storage killed the laptop SD card slot

Lenovo ThinkPad @ IFA 2019

Lenovo ThinkPad @ IFA 2019

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Lenovo’s new ThinkBooks are designed for small and medium businesses who want a good laptop for not a lot of money. Like the iconic ThinkPad range, they’re built around strong fundamentals and reliable performance. They're also a little more affordable. 

However, the new ThinkBooks lack one feature that many professional users - particularly photographers or videographers - are going to miss: an SD card slot. 

We spoke to Matt Berada, Lenovo’s VP of Global Marketing for an insight as to why more and more business PCs are opting to abandon the SD card slot. 

He told us that the initial push to leave an SD card off the new ThinkBook range initially came from a desire to offer thinner, lighter laptops to SMB customers.

He says “there's definitely an element of just hey, we want thinner, we want lighter. You know, do we need all these ports?”

“The other part of is [that] so much is moving to the cloud. Is there as much of a need? Before and in the past, I'm pulling SD cards out of my phone. That's how I'm moving photos back and forth, you know? You even had SDs card that would go into a digital photo frame." 

"Now, with the evolution of cloud and the expansion of that moving so quickly, it just being a default setting on most of our phones at this stage where it's backing up to the cloud automatically. There’s really not as much of a need for me to pull a physical card - and so less and less demand in general across the marketplace.”

“There are audience still leveraging photo cards but across the broad spectrum of the majority of users cloud is  definitely growing very fast as the default choice. Even with your photographers, you're seeing where now more and more DSLR cameras that can upload to the cloud directly [through your] phone.”

Berada describes the process of port selection for Lenovo products as akin to baking a cake. 

“You can add a lot of things, but every one of those you add there's a cost. And there's a technical complication of space and power and in wiring and whatever else.”

“You have no idea how many debates we've had over [whether we have] one USB or two? Do we need a headphone jack? I mean, I've been in violent debates with teams over these type of things that we constantly are challenged by."

So - how does Lenovo end up making those decisions? 

Berada says that “We leverage data as best you can. No data is ever going to tell you the future. That’s where the challenge comes in, so we will do market research. We do a lot of focus group studies. We're actively working on consumer segmentation to understand the different audiences and their needs.”

“As a manufacturer [you are] to make a leap based on what you believe. You see as the trends. And in all honesty, sometimes we're going to guess wrong, sometimes we may lead the market.” 

“There is a certain point where the technology is right, the user experiences is right, and everybody just gets it. But if you're late to the game, well, then you may have missed it and then all of a sudden, you've lost market share, you've lost the man, you've lost brand perceptions. Or do you lead it and you’re first to market with a brand new technology that no one wants and then you can fail on that side of things.” 

“It's always a delicate balance of trying to find the right solution.” 

Disclosure - PC World Australia's coverage of this year's IFA in Berlin was sponsored by Lenovo who covered the costs of our flights and accommodation.

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Fergus Halliday
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