PC Hardware Makers Pulling Back On Tablet Manufacturing

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Digitimes, quoting “sources from upstream supply chains,” is stating that PC manufacturers like Dell, Acer, and HP are building fewer tablet products in direct reaction to devices like the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Nook Tablet. Citing an inability to gain traction against devices with rich content to back them up, the manufacturers are looking elsewhere to regain a foothold in the mobile market.

In truth, manufacturers know they won’t get far building vehicles for Android, Google Music notwithstanding. Building and marketing a tablet like the Xoom or the Asus Transformer is a perilous process and is buffeted by the whims of a price-conscious consumer. It doesn’t make economic sense to build and try to sell a few hundred thousand slates that will be considered obsolete in a few months.

It seems that only Samsung, with their Galaxy Tabs, has gained any brand recognition. The rest of the players are, at best, also-rans.

Amazon and, to an extent, Barnes & Noble, have the right idea: they sell the device to sell the content. There is no reason, for example, that the eink versions of the Kindle and Nook shouldn’t be free with Amazon Prime or content subscription services other than to prevent the perception that the devices are cheap. I can understand charging a bit for the color devices like the Tablet and the Fire, but if (to murder a metaphor) Amazon is selling the razor cheap and the blades at a premium, then it makes little sense for folks like HP to sell the arguably superior straight razors they’ve been trying to ship.

The pattern of boom and bust in tablets closely follows the rise and fall of the netbook. The netbook was supposed to save the PC industry – and it did – until people started competing on price. Now the concept of a netbook is laughable in the face of the ultrabook and the more popular tablets and it took far too long for PC manufacturers to realize this. By reacting swiftly to reduced interest in their wares and focusing on consumer experience in higher margin items – namely Windows 8 devices in a laptop form factor, it just makes sense for most of these guys to pull the plug on their misguided slate dreams.