Small Windows tablets have gotten a cool response from US customers, Lenovo said today. The top PC maker currently manufactures two 8-inch Windows 8 tablets: the ThinkPad 8 and Miix 2, which have both been available for a number of months, though the larger versions have fared better. "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," says Lenovo spokesman Raymond Gorman in a statement to PC World. While the ThinkPad 8 has been popular in Brazil, China, and Japan, the lack of demand in the US means it’s no longer on sale.
Lenovo’s plans to pull the lesser-performing models mirror similar moves by Samsung to cancel Windows RT tablets in the US after weak demand. Samsung was one of the first to pull back from Windows RT, and other PC makers have since followed, leaving just Microsoft producing RT tablets with the Surface 2 and Lumia 2520. Microsoft will be hoping Lenovo doesn’t kickstart a trend amongst PC makers to move away from small Windows tablets, especially as it only recently made Windows free for devices under 9 inches. Microsoft reportedly canceled its own plans for a small "Surface Mini" Windows tablet after CEO Satya Nadella and Executive VP Stephen Elop backed away from the project. Nadella and Elop reportedly decided that the product wasn't different enough from the competition and probably wouldn't be a hit.
Small Windows tablets might make sense soon
Lenovo’s ThinkPad 8 was one of the more impressive 8-inch Windows tablets on the market, but without full touch versions of Office and more "Metro-style" apps these miniature Windows tablets still fill a puzzling gap in the market. Nevertheless, Toshiba is planning to launch the first 7-inch Windows tablet later this year, alongside $99 small Windows tablets from HP. As Microsoft works to combine Windows Phone and Windows RT into a single operating system without a desktop mode, and bring a touch versions of Office to market, smaller Windows tablets could start to make a lot more sense soon.
Update July 18th, 9:12PM: In a statement, Lenovo said it plans to continue selling small-screen Windows tablets. This post has been updated accordingly. The company's full statement is below:
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. 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.