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There is a very interesting theory about why IBM shed their vaunted ThinkPad & PC hardware division to China’s Lenovo. Attributed to the Petrov Group, in a Business 2.0 article, the theory is that IBM would use it’s partnership (IBM still owns a percentage of Lenovo) to enter the China market with a low cost, Linux-based PC platform.

As Petrov puts it, China “is a command economy and is price sensitive.” It is also projected to surpass the United States as the biggest PC market by 2010. In fact, in that year, the Chinese are expected to buy 180 million PCs, while the developed world will buy 150 million. If IBM, through its new partner Lenovo, could establish cheap Linux desktops as an acceptable alternative to Windows machines in China alone, it would cut Microsoft’s cash flow from a much-needed growth market. At the same time, it would teach a new generation of IT managers in China that since Windows isn’t a necessity, Microsoft products aren’t needed on servers either. (Subtext: Buy IBM.)

If this is indeed the scenario that folks in Armonk have dreamed up, it’s absolutely brilliant.