Lenovo has issued a clarification on its tablet strategy: Refuting an earlier report to the contrary, the world’s largest PC maker will continue to sell Windows tablets with displays smaller than 10 inches in the U.S.
That’s good news for the greater Microsoft story line, but these devices will still face immense pressure from small-display Android-based tablets, which cost much less.
On Thursday, Lenovo said that it has halted U.S. sales for two Windows 8.1 tablets with 8-inch screens—the $400 ThinkPad 8 and the $300 Miix 2.
“In North America, we’re seeing stronger interest in the larger screen sizes for Windows tablets,” Raymond Gorman, a Lenovo spokesman, said in an email. “In other markets, particularly Brazil, China, and Japan, the demand for ThinkPad 8 has been much stronger, so we are adjusting our ThinkPad 8 inventories to meet increasing demand in those markets.”
As for the 8-inch Miix 2, it went off sale without explanation. Lenovo’s U.S. strategy for the ThinkPad 10 and 10.1-inch version of Miix 2 remained unchanged.
Fast forward two days later. In a post on Lenovo.com, the company announced it’s committed to different screen sizes and new 8-inch tablets will be available for the holidays. Said the statement: “Our model mix changes as per customer demand, and although we are no longer selling ThinkPad 8 in the U.S., and we have sold out of Miix 8-inch, we are not getting out of the small-screen Windows tablet business as was reported by the media. In short, we will continue to sell both 8 and 10 inch Windows tablets in both the U.S. and non-U.S markets.”
Translation: Our 8-inch Windows tablet exit is merely temporary. This isn’t a permanent withdrawal, and we’re keeping all options on the table.
That’s certainly wise spin-control, but Lenovo—and all tablet manufacturers—will still have to solve the basic puzzle of making small-display Windows tablets attractive to consumers when cheap, serviceable, 7-inch Android tablets can be had for less than $200.
We gave the ThinkPad 8 a 4-star rating, and raved about its processor speed and 1900×1200 display. But it also retailed at $400. The 8-inch Miix 2 also received 4-star accolades; it’s light and fast, and boasts good battery life. But it was also expensive at $300.