Last year was a difficult one for PC makers, with overall PC shipments contracting for the first time since 2001. This year isn’t starting off any better, at least for notebook PCs, according to market research firm IHS.
Notebook shipments typically decline in the first quarter of any given year compared to the holiday laden fourth quarter. But this year, IHS expects to decline to be particularly steep, with unit shipments from the top five original design manufacturers (ODMs) to drop 15 percent sequentially. The firm projects a bleak first quarter and slow first half for notebook sales, before Ultrabooks and other types of ultrathin notebooks revive consumer interest in notebooks in the second half of the year.
Ultrabooks largely flopped in 2012 as their generally high price tag—hovering around $1,000—proved unattractive to a most PC consumers. Sales of notebook and desktop PCs also faced stiff competition from tablets, with consumers gravitating to their lower prices, mobility and convenience.
But IHS said Ultrabooks and other ultra-thin notebook PCs are being given a new lease on life in 2013 in light of new features, including improved battery power, a form factor that lets the display be detached for use as a tablet, a higher-performance central processing unit in the form of Intel’s Haswell chip, and the gradual uptake of the recently released Windows 8 operating system.
“Notebook ODMs in early 2013 are feeling the pain from the combined impacts of uncertain economic conditions and slower-than-expected sales of Ultrabook PCs,” said Peter Lin, senior analyst for compute platforms at IHS, in a statement.