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Monday, February 14, 2005
Toshiba starts premium corporate laptops

Toshiba launched a new line of laptops on Monday which are more secure, sturdier and easier to connect, in an attempt to lure business customers by retaining the latest technology longer for itself.

Toshiba, which is also a major supplier of hard disks, DVD drives, chips and thin displays to rival laptop computer makers, introduced the new line of EasyGuard portable computers to differentiate itself from commodity products.

"We're going after selfish innovation. We keep the best technology for our own products for six to nine months. After that we commoditize it, while at the same time we will introduce new premium features for new products," said Oscar Koenders, Toshiba's European general manager for computer systems.

"Mr Dell ... we'll cut him off for 6 to 9 months," he added.

By 2008, Toshiba expects more laptops will be shipped than desktop computers. It claims about 15 percent market share of the laptop market and ranks No. 7 in the overall PC rankings, including desktops and laptops, according to Gartner research group. Last year 189 million personal computers were sold worldwide.

The strategy to approach the business market with EasyGuard products is similar to the Qosmio line of premium laptops for the consumer segment launched six months ago.

But unlike the Qosmio products, EasyGuard laptops will not be priced much above other laptops. "Making products more robust is not worth hundreds of euros to a corporate IT department," Koenders said.

The features, however, could save businesses significant amounts of money in case computers are dropped, stolen or lost.

Toshiba has fitted the products with a range of safety features that prevent loss of data.

They include advanced movement sensors, rubber bands and air cells around fragile components, and water insulators that keep the computer from crashing three minutes after spilling a cup of tea over the keyboard.

Tests by independent test institute TUV showed the laptops survived a fall from a desk and 30 milliliters of water.

The machines will also be fitted with a range of the latest market-standard security features, as well as improved connectivity systems for wireless and wired networks.

One new item is a "summit" function which makes it easy to wirelessly share information between laptops in a meeting.

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