I bought my first Thinkpad (a used T20) in the early 2000's after reading Slashdot reviews. The various reviewers discussed Sony Vaio, Dell Laptops, etc. What eventually sold me was that the Thinkpad was consistently well regarded (durable construction, backwards compatible, etc.) and most importantly had the best keyboard feel of all the brands.
I love the feel of the Thinkpad keyboard and how the layout preserved essential aspects of an extended keyboard (esp. the insert/delete/home/end/PgUp/PgDn keys). The function keys were grouped in 4's which made them easy to find by touch. It made the transition from a full keyboard to the laptop keyboard that much easier.
Lenovo seemed to have started down the slope when they started tweaking the layout by moving the "Insert" key and enlarging the "Delete" key.
The whole point of the Thinkpad line (esp with the T and X series) is that when the time comes to upgrade, one could simply start (/focus on) working as one didn't have to relearn/readjust where keys got moved around to.
For mass market appeal, Lenovo had the IdeaPad line to experiment with. The traditional business laptop series should have remained unchanged. The T series incarnation in this case is nothing special; it's not really a ThinkPad anymore. Hopefully, Lenovo will hear the cries of the T series devotees and revert the design emphasis.