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Lenovo Group LTD is pitching a new low-price ThinkCentre desktop in an effort to gain more of a following in the small business market.

The PC maker, created in May when China’s Lenovo closed its multi-billion-dollar purchase of IBM’s PC division, launched the ThinkCentre E Series, which starts at $379, on Tuesday.

The desktop shows the new Lenovo’s ambition to expand. The company has said it will focus its efforts on bumping up sales to businesses, particularly small and medium-sized corporations, which IBM neglected in favor of larger firms. Despite being made up of small companies, who might only purchase a few PCs at one time, the small and medium business market as a whole consumes large quantities of PCs. Thus Lenovo hopes to use its entry into the space to put the squeeze on competitors, including Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., who have extensive SMB offerings both in the United States and globally.

Click here to read more about the IBM-Lenovo deal.

Lenovo has been endeavor to combine high-profile marketing—it’s pushing its Think brands, such as ThinkPad, in television ads and sponsoring the 2006 Olympics Winter Games and 2008 Olympic Summer Games—with its sleek products and customer service in an effort to maintain its corporate accounts in markets such as the United States and simultaneously expand its presence in the small and medium business space and in emerging markets.

“The way we see it is the growth is coming in SMB and particularly very small businesses, where we have a smaller market share than with large customers,” Deepak Advani, Lenovo’s chief marketing officer and head of strategy, said during an update on the company’s strategy. “By serving those two types of customers very well we can meet our growth objectives.”

The Purchase, N.Y.-headquartered, PC maker, which also targets small and medium businesses with a new Z Series ThinkPad, will pitch its new E Series primarily to small businesses with up to 99 employees. It will offer the machine with its Rescue and Recovery software, part of its ThinkVantage line of no-charge add-ons designed to cut management costs or bolster security. Rescue and Recovery allows a PC to survive a crash and resume operating without losing data.

It has also cast the E Series in silver and black—a design also used for the Z Series—versus the flat black of its previous ThinkPad and ThinkCentre models. However, Lenovo will encourage companies looking for more advanced ThinkVantage gear, such as built-in security features, to step up to the ThinkCentre A Series.

Click here to read more about Lenovo’s work with business customers.

The E series, which will be available worldwide, will be available as tower or as a small desktop, which is about half as thick. Businesses can configure the machines with a range of Intel Corp. processors, including Celeron D and Pentium 4 chips, hard drives up to 160GB and CD-burners or DVD-burners, Lenovo executives said.

The most basic model, priced starting at $379, will come with a Celeron D processor, 256MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP Home Edition operating system and a one-year warranty.

Although Lenovo is focusing on businesses at first, company executives have said that it is likely to begin offering consumer-oriented products—including devices such as cell phones—outside of China at some point in the future.

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