I bought an IBM Thinkpad laptop almost ten years ago after a really great conversation with an IBM sales rep at comdex, and I’ve owned three more since then. I bought a a refurbished X31 with a full IBM warranty just recently as my main Windows machine, replacing both an older X20 Eric stole from me and an aging desktop. When I was having horrible trouble with my hands in 1999 and I could not type on any computer keyboard, ergonomic or not, for more than about half an hour a day, I discovered that I actually could type on a thinkpad keyboard. IBM hardware saved my career.
Eric inherited my old Thinkpad X20 because he discovered there was a thriving community of linux developers and support forums for the Thinkpad. Red Hat installed on it without problems. When the screen died a few months back he replaced it with a slightly larger model (a T40) because he found out that IBM itself was certifying and supporting linux on those models. No one else seems to have such large corporate support for linux (who would ever have guessed that IBM would be at the vanguard of free software development? It still boggles the mind).
I’m primarily a Mac user, but I do use Windows a lot for work. And the thinkpad hardware, while not as technolusty gorgeous as a powerbook or even, say, a Sony Vaio, is incredibly well-constructed. I’ve only ever had one problem with a thinkpad — my first one, a 770, blew up, literally, small puff of smoke, smell of ozone — and when I called them they had the entire thing fixed in two days, including shipping (I still don’t know how they did that). And for the record I have no difficulties with the nipple mouse and actually prefer it to a trackpad.
So although I understand IBM’s motivation — the PC business is obviously not a good business to be in unless you are Dell — I will mourn the thinkpads when they are gone.