Are the big names saying “ta-ra” to tablets?

Tablet numbers aren't looking good: while Apple sells tablets by the million, rivals are struggling to reach six-figure sales. According to the latest Tablet research by NPD, the best-selling non-Apple tablet manufacturer is HP, which sold 204,000 units between the launch of its tablets and the end of October; other big-name rivals barely cracked 108,000 sales.

Does that mean some of them are getting out of the tablet business? News site DigiTimes says yes, reporting that Acer, Asus and Dell had decided to stop making Android tablets. Asus has since denied the claims - "as usual, the rumours and reports from DigiTimes are incorrect", Asus' Gary Key told journalists - but so far Dell and Acer haven't commented.
DigiTimes claims that "sources" from suppliers "believe these players will gradually phase out from the market", ceding the market to Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The report argues that other manufacturers won't be able to offer similar prices while still turning a profit, and predicts that in the long term tablets will be given away free with firms making money from selling media such as books or movies.

It's possible that DigiTimes is both right and wrong: with Windows 8 due in the summer, tablet firms might decide they're better shelving any me-too tablets and working on Windows devices instead. The Android tablet market is relatively tiny, whereas the market for Windows 8 tablets could well be enormous. It's not so much that tech firms are abandoning tablets altogether; it could be that they're keeping their powder dry until Windows 8 is ready to roll.

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