UNC Students Have New Option When Purchasing Laptops

By Anne Brenner Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:06 am

CHAPEL HILL-UNC began selling MacBook Pros through its Student Stores more than two years ago. Lenovo’s ThinkPad, which was the only option for students previously, soon saw its sales dip with the competition from Apple. For this upcoming school year, Lenovo is introducing a new line of computers for students to choose from in hopes that they can regain control of the market.

An ongoing sales battle has recently taken place in UNC Student Stores.

As students look at their options for purchasing a computer, they can now choose Apple’s MacBook Pro when deciding to buy a computer.

The only option before that was Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops.

“The first year it ran about 50/50 for the MacBook Pros versus the ThinkPad,” says Frank Penn, who is manager of UNC’s Ram Shop.  “Last year it was about 60/40 for the MacBook Pros.”

The Ram Shop houses many technological needs for students, such as headphones, cables, and accessories for computers.

With Macs becoming more popular amongst students, Lenovo is updating its line of options for them to choose from this upcoming school year.

Penn showed off the touch screen capabilities of the newest ThinkPad, a feature he points out that the MacBook doesn’t have.

John Gorsuch, the director of Student Stores, says that the new line of Lenovos have a chance of selling better than the Macs this year.

“The Lenovo models this year are probably one of the most cutting edge models that have ever been introduced on this campus,” he says. “There’s a lot of compelling reasons to choose Lenovo maybe even over the Apple this year for the first time in three years that we’ve been doing two choices.”

Lenovo may be going through a re-branding of sorts by having thinner and lighter touch-screen laptops, but it will take more than that to attract students to buy its products.

As the sales have shown, students are opting for Macs, because of its sleeker design and many believe the software is better as well.

Dominique Moore says he bought a MacBook last year after owning a Lenovo for two years, and he’s happy he made the switch.

“I really love the MacBook a lot more,” he says.  “It’s smaller, it can fit in my backpack a little easier, it’s not as heavy. It does everything the Lenovo can do but 10 times more. It’s much faster.”

Moore cites a number of problems he had with his Lenovo before making the change.

“They don’t last, they’re too big, you’re constantly taking it down to ITS to get something fixed, a button fell off or the hard drive’s not working, the CD drive’s not working, they take forever to start up, they’re very slow.”

Moore’s opinion is shared by many UNC students, as MacBook Pros are becoming a more common sight in the classroom in what was once a scene dominated by ThinkPads.

It remains to be seen whether or not Lenovo’s new models will entice students to opt for their product instead of Apples’ MacBook, but there are early signs of encouragement as Penn points out.

“We’re watching orders starting this year on April 1st,” he says. “Right now the ThinkPads are running at a higher rate than the MacBook Pros at this point in time.”

Time will tell if Lenovo’s efforts will win over the students it has lost.

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