Some of the biggest manufacturers in the mobile computing game - Dell, Asus and Acer - could be set to leave the tablet market due to heavy competition from content publishers like Apple, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
While until recently tablet manufacturers focused mostly on making money from the hardware itself, Amazon has bucked the trend by selling the latest Kindle at a loss, making up the difference by flogging ebooks after the initial sale. With further competitive pricing from the Kindle Fire, Barnes and Noble's Nook Tablet and Apple's unwaning popularity despite often inflated price tags, it makes sense that hardware-focused companies would struggle to make an impact in the marketplace.
Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble are able to keep their prices down by offering eBooks after the point of sale. While Apple's prices are undeniably high in comparison, the simple fact that it generates further income from music, app and content sales via iTunes makes its tablets a more profitable venture than those of its direct competitors.
The Guardian reports that this stiff competition is leading to rumours that Acer, Asus and Dell are looking to exit the tablet market altogether in order to better concentrate on their laptop and desktop devices.
Industry rumour-mill DigiTimes has even speculated that, in the future, certain tablet manufacturers could offer their hardware for free as construction costs come down and profits from content continue to grow.
Not everyone agrees, however. The Guardian goes on to speculate that instead of phasing out of the market completely, Acer, Asus and Dell are simply biding their time for Microsoft's next operating system, Windows 8. With that release bringing with it many features aimed at improving the tablet experience, it would certainly make for a strong selling point.