When you're the world's largest maker of PCs, people start paying attention. So when Lenovo was quoted last week as saying that it was leaving the market for Windows-based mini-tablets in the United States, well, let's just say some ears perked up. But now Lenovo is backtracking, and says it has plans to bring more Windows mini-tablets to the US market later this year.
So what is happening?
The controversy started when PC World contacted Lenovo, presumably because readers could no longer purchase either of the company's Windows-based mini-tablets—the ThinkPad 8 and Miix 2, both of which are excellent, by the way. (Check out my Lenovo ThinkPad 8 Review and Lenovo Miix 2 Review for details.)
PC World's claim is certainly salacious enough: "Lenovo has stopped selling Windows tablets with screen sizes under 10 inches in the U.S. due to lack of interest."
But in reading over that article, it's not entirely clear how it arrived at that conclusion. A statement from a Lenovo spokesperson simply noted that the firm's mini-tablets sell better in other countries, while its full-sized tablets sell better in the US. Here's the quote:
"In North America, we're seeing stronger interest in the larger screen sizes for Windows tablets and are pleased with initial customer demand for the ThinkPad 10," a statement credited to Lenovo spokesperson Raymond Gorman notes. "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. If market demand for ThinkPad 8 changes, we will re-evaluate our strategy."
What I see there is a pragmatic decision to sell the devices it's made in the countries where there is demand. Lenovo speaks of "stronger" demand, not "no" demand in the US. But... was the report incorrect?
No. PC World got it right. And Lenovo was kind enough to confirm that.
"We will continue to bring new Windows devices to market across different screen sizes, including a new 8-inch tablet and 10-inch tablet coming this holiday," a Lenovo public statement reads. "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."
So Lenovo has in fact stopped selling the ThinkPad 8, which I noted in my review was excellent but far too expensive compared to the competition. And it has "sold out" of the Miix 2, whatever that means (especially if the device is still selling overseas).
The good news? There will be new Lenovo 8-inch Windows tablets this holiday season.
The bad news? Lenovo needs to be a little more careful around people whose job it is to report the truth, especially if it's controversial and will garner big page views.