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Lenovo spins 180, says it's still in the 8-in. Windows tablet game

Gregg Keizer | July 21, 2014
Lenovo on Friday said it would continue selling sub-10-in. Windows tablets in the U.S., backing away from statements it made the day before.

Lenovo on Friday said it would continue selling sub-10-in. Windows tablets in the U.S., backing away from statements it made the day before, when it said it was pulling the ThinkPad 8 from the North American market and had stopped selling a model of the Miix 2.

"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," Lenovo said in a press release published on its website Friday.

"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 (emphasis in original)," the statement continued.

On Thursday, the IDG News Service — like Computerworld, owned and operated by IDG — reported the withdrawal of the ThinkPad 8 and the 8-in. Miix from the U.S. market. The ThinkPad 8 had debuted in January at prices starting at $449, and the similarly-sized Miix had launched in October 2013.

Lenovo told IDG News that it was diverting remaining stocks of the ThinkPad 8 to other countries, including Brazil, China, and Japan, where demand was stronger for smaller Windows 8.1-powered tablets.

The China-based company, which has made impressive gains in the global market — it was the world's largest personal computer seller during the second quarter, ahead of Hewlett-Packard and Dell, according to IDC — did not say exactly when it would return with an 8-in. device. If it begins selling the unnamed device in October, typical of OEMs that seed the channel then for the holiday sales season, it will have been absent from the market for two or more months.

Lenovo hasn't been the only company to balk at selling small-sized Windows tablets in the U.S. Microsoft was ready to roll out a smaller Surface tablet, the Surface Mini, in May but changed its mind at the last minute.

The day before a May 20 event, Computerworld reported that Microsoft would not unveil the Surface Mini. Later accounts elsewhere claimed that the device was pulled from the presentation — and thus release — as executives feared that the Mini wasn't sufficiently different from lower-priced rivals to do well in the market.

It's not surprising that vendors are hesitant to shill 8-in. Windows tablets in the U.S.

As the most mature tablet market, U.S. sales increases have slowed as consumers hold onto what they have longer than did early adopters. Smaller-screen tablets are also waning as a percentage of total tablets shipped, with most analysts seeing a rebound in larger screens because people are arming themselves with smartphones boasting screens of 5-in. and above.

 

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