Hardware companies expected to give up on tablets

Traditional PC hardware companies are waking up to the realisation that they can’t figure out the tablet market and will leave it to the rest.

Acer, HP, Dell and Asustek haven’t had much luck with their tablets so far. HP’s TouchPad did sell like hotcakes when it was put at the bargain bin price, but struggled before that. Now, the hardware companies plan to leave the tablet market to companies like Apple and Amazon.

They’ve realised there simply isn’t much profit in tablets, according to Digitimes’ sources in the supply chain, especially as the consumer market is beginning to compete so aggressively on launch prices. For example, Amazon’s Fire will cost under $200, while the Nook Simple Touch will go on sale at $99. They make their money from selling their own content through the devices rather than the devices themselves. In fact, selling the Fire so cheap is expected to cost Amazon in the long run.

The same sources said that sales for the iPad 2 – which, at the moment, is still arguably the best pick for a tablet -didn’t match up toe the original iPad. That proves, the sources argued, that interest in tablet PCs is waning. After all, if you’ve got a smartphone, why do you need a very large smartphone that can’t make phone calls?

In India, the Aakash tablet is selling for 3,000 Rs, or about $60. The cheap-as-chips Android tablet, suggests the Economic Times of India will help more people get online for an affordable price.

A lofty goal, but companies like Qualcomm are betting the farm that the smartphone is going to be doing the same, affordably, and soon.

The next version of the Aakash will have an attachable keyboard, making it an option for low-cost mobile computing. 

Countries like India and other emerging markets aren’t heralding the death of the PC like so many analysts in the west. Netbooks are still selling, so whether a cheap Android tablet will be a useful alternative remains to be seen.