The ThinkPad is going back home.
Lenovo is shifting some of the venerable laptop’s production back to Japan, where the ThinkPad was manufactured up until the 2000s, Japan’s Asihi Shimbun reports
The shift is the latest result of the partnership Lenovo formed with Japanese IT company NEC. Meant to boost Lenovo’s sales in Japan, the alliance combined NEC’s 20 percent consumer PC market share with Lenovo’s comparably weak five percent share in the country.
At the time of the announcement, Lenovo was the world’s fourth largest PC vendor. Now it’s the world’s second largest, trailing only HP.
But that success hasn’t come from growth in Japan, however. Japan’s PC market has been notoriously hard to crack for non-Japanese companies, a difficulty due in no small part the average Japanese consumer’s preference for Japanese-manufactured goods. By shifting ThinkPad production to Japan, Lenovo is clearly aiming to win over the hearts and minds of these sorts of nationalistic Japanese consumers.
In the ThinkPad’s case, this is something that Lenovo likely won’t have too much trouble with. Not only was the ThinkPad manufactured in Japan, the country is also responsible for its design. The laptop’s original designers used Japan’s traditional bento lunch boxes as inspiration for the ThinkPad’s now-infamous look and feel.
It’s also worth noting that the ThinkPad itself has become an increasingly multinational brand: Developed by the American IBM alongside Japanese researchers, the laptop line is now manufactured by a Chinese multinational company in tandem with a Japanese one. It’s a citizen of the world.