Taiwan source forecasts mass exit from tablet biz

Amazon, Apple only players by 2013. Apparently

Apple iPad 2

PC companies will begin to exit the tablet market in 2012, it has been claimed.

The notion, put forward by "sources from [the] upstream supply chain" cited by DigiTimes, is that Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and others will "gradually phase out from the market", leaving it to the likes of Apple and Amazon, who not only sell hardware but content too.

Without that content, the source reckons, the hardware-only guys haven't a hope of making it big in the tablet space and so will decide not to bother.

It's certainly true that HP killed off its WebOS tablet, the TouchPad, and Acer executives have been heard to mutter that consumers will soon get over tablets and go back to buying notebooks.

But, what with Windows 8 in its way, it's hard to see such suppliers pulling out of the tablet market right now. Others are gearing up to offer Nvidia Tegra 3-based tablets in 2012.

The source's view is that Amazon and fellow US retailer Barnes & Noble will eventually give away their tablets, subsidising the price entirely from content sales.

We can see that happening: the Kindle Fire and Nook tablet are already believed to be being sold at little if anything above cost price. If people buy enough movies, TV shows, e-books and music from these companies, that allows the price to come down further.

However, the source undermines his argument by alleging that "although iPad 2 is also seeing strong demand from consumers, sales were lower than those of iPad".

Except, while 15m iPads were sold up to the launch of the iPad 2, Apple shipped 20.4m iPads in the six months to the end of September 2011, almost all of them iPad 2s. Even if the Christmas quarter's sales are lower than expected, as some observers have suggested, they'll still push iPad 2 sales well ahead of its predecessor. ®

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