When's the last time you walked into a store and were talked out of a purchase by a sales rep?
"Just wait," you're told. "It's going to get a lot cheaper soon."
Well, that's pretty much what Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) CEO Paul Otellini said during his company's earnings call on Tuesday afternoon.
"If you look at touch-enabled Intel based notebooks that are ultra-thin and light using non-core processors, those prices are going to be down to as low as $200 probably," he said.
In other words, what are you doing even considering a Windows 8 touch device now? As Intel gets ready to roll out its Bay Trail chip during the latter half of this year -- a quad-core chip that's more powerful than the current Atom processor being used in portable devices -- are prices really going to be heading as low as entry-level Android tablets?
Is a $200 Windows 8 device even possible given Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) steep licensing ransom when pitted against the freely available Android? What about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)? Margins have been contracting at the consumer tech titan, but is Apple ready for this kind of price war?
Either way, it probably pays to hold back on the cheap portable PC that you've been considering. It wasn't Otellini's intention, but pointing to the possibility of $200 touch-based notebooks down the line is going to freeze the already sluggish sales of Windows 8 devices.
Apple has responded to cascading prices by introducing smaller iPads and keeping non-current iPhone models around longer than usual. Microsoft has yet to act, but you know it's just a matter of time before we get either a price cut on the Surface tablets or the software giant bowing out of the market completely.
If Intel is able to effectively power dirt cheap touch-based notebooks and if Microsoft is willing to let that happen on the operating system end, maybe the laptop of the future may have a future after all.
Just don't be the sap that buys one now.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.