Traditional PC manufacturers are reportedly preparing to phase themselves out of the tablet market due to lackluster sales.
According to DigiTimes, the industry heavyweights will effectively concede the lucrative space to devices like Apple's iPad, Amazon's Kindle Fire and B&N's Nook Tablet.
"With Amazon offering its Kindle Fire at $199 and Barnes & Noble to provide its upcoming Nook Simple Touch at a price of $99, the pure hardware players are unlikely to profit from the market through price competition," claimed DigiTimes.
"Since Amazon and Barnes & Noble are mainly profiting from their content platforms, not the hardware, the sources believe these hardware devices will eventually be offered for free."
The publication also cited inside sources as saying that strong enthusiasm for tablet PCs by mainstream consumers has "already disappeared."
As AppleInsider's Sam Oliver notes, the news that consumers may have lost interest in the tablet form factor could spell trouble for Microsoft, as Redmond's upcoming Windows 8 (Metro) was specifically designed to be a tablet-friendly operating system.
Then again, while Microsoft may have trouble breaking into the tablet market, Redmond will continue to dominate the PC space with Windows 8 - a heavily revamped OS designed to run on both x86 and RISC (ARM) devices.