New features include remote 'kill' for lost laptop It may be tough selling personal computers in this gloomy economic climate, but mainland technology giant Lenovo Group is betting that a sharpened focus on innovative features in its core product line could help boost sales. The world's fourth-largest personal computer supplier is stepping up efforts to add 'services, software, peripherals and any unique technology that can be embedded into our products that makes them more competitive and innovative', said president and chief executive William Amelio. New technologies being added to its popular ThinkPad notebooks include a high-capacity thumb drive, access to an online music subscription and a function that can remotely 'kill' a lost or stolen laptop through a text message. 'It's important to remember that Lenovo has a strong, proven global engine for innovation,' Mr Amelio said, adding that the company was continuing to explore opportunities for an acquisition that could expand the scale of its business. A swift and major update of features on Lenovo's laptops is important because these products - led by the ThinkPad line, from company's 2005 acquisition of IBM's personal computer division - remained the largest contributor to the company's total sales. Notebook unit shipments in the quarter to September were up 21 per cent from a year earlier. Segment revenues grew 4 per cent to US$2.6 billion, accounting for 60 per cent of total sales of US$4.3 billion. Lenovo's new 'constant secure remote disable' feature, which can remotely disable a notebook computer through a text message, will be available on some ThinkPad notebook models in the first quarter next year. The kill command can swiftly render the lost or stolen laptop inoperable, protecting any sensitive data stored in the computer from being accessed. Stephen Chau Kam-kun, chief technology officer at mobile network operator SmarTone-Vodafone, said the Lenovo service would be a welcome addition to various remote security features being adopted by large companies. Lenovo released its ThinkPad USB Portable Secure Hard Drive last month. Compact enough to fit in a shirt pocket, the device features advanced encryption for up to 10 unique user IDs and one administrator. For its laptop and desktop users in the United States and Canada, Lenovo had earlier offered a free 14-day trial subscription to online music service Napster and its catalogue of more than 6 million songs. According to Beijing-based market advisory firm CCID Consulting, 'continuous upgrade of technology and differentiation of application will push forward the development of the high-end [notebook] market'. It said 'competition in marketing [different notebook innovations] has never been more intense'. Still, Mr Amelio noted that price competition in the industry 'has become a bit more aggressive than it was six months ago'. Lenovo was 'keeping pace with the competition to maintain and gain [market] share', he added. The company reported last month a worse than expected fiscal second-quarter net profit of US$23 million, down 77.7 per cent from US$105 million a year earlier. Lenovo's share price, which closed at HK$1.79 on Friday, has fallen to its lowest levels since November 1999.