With a $99 price tag, Hewlett-Packard's WebOS TouchPad joined Dell Streak 5 in the tablet graveyard after just seven weeks on shelves, and given the weak sales of many other players, it looks like similar deaths are bound to follow.
HP's sudden move of pulling the TouchPad proves that the biggies in the tech world have not been successful so far in taking a bite out of Apple's iPad. The non-iPad tablets just won't sell at retail. That's the clear message from events over the past few days, Mark Gerber, an analyst at Boston research and investment firm Detwiler Fenton told Reuters.
The TouchPad shared the fate of some other tablets that failed to attract consumers, including Asustek Computer's Eee Pad Transformer and the Xoom from Motorola Mobility.
Research In Motion's PlayBook also didn't enjoy good reviews. However, analysts believe that since it's key to RIM's strategy, PlayBook will probably survive the heat, despite its dropping sales.
I do not expect RIM to be shutting down PlayBook sales any time soon or abandoning that platform, because RIM views it as its future, said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial in New York.
According to Strategy Analytics, Apple's iOS tablet software accounted for 61.3 percent of the tablet market in the second quarter, which is more than double the 30.1 percent share, held by Google's Android. While Microsoft accounted for 4.6 percent share, RIM held a mere 3.3 percent.
But, according to market analysts, the landscape might get changed soon.
Who can challenge Apple?
Microsoft: With its move to buy Motorola Mobility, Google has raised potential stakes against Apple, as with the latest acquisition, it will have more devices to showcase its software.
The latest buzz is around Google's Ice Cream Sandwich, a system that will amalgamate the Android software used in both tablets and smartphones. Experts believe that it will cheer up developers to exploit the platform and create better apps.
Microsoft's upcoming tablet software, code-named Windows 8, could also turn out to be a threat for the iPad and iPhone maker. According to Microsoft, the new software will run on a range of devices including traditional PCs, laptops and tablets. Windows 8 is likely to hit the stores later next year.
Amazon: A challenge to Apple can also be expected from the Amazon camp, as the maker of the Kindle e-reader is due to announce its plans to release a tablet this fall.
According to Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert Baird & Co, the new tablet from Amazon could be a game-changer. Featuring Android's Honeycomb OS and a 7-inch screen, the tablet is expected to be priced under $300.
Sebastian even predicted that with sales of up to three million units in the first year, Amazon's upcoming tablet would outperform other Android tablets from Motorola and Acer. It could also potentially beat Samsung's Galaxy Tab.
Analysts said that Amazon's unnamed tablet can pose a significant threat to Apple powered by Kindle's popularity and the movie and music services the company sells. The company is also expected subsidize the tablet's price, which could also increase sales, Reuters reported.
Consumer electronics giant Sony has also planned to launch its first two tablets later this year.
We're going to bring the best of all of the assets at our disposal to bear: hardware, content and network services, said a Sony spokeswoman.