Intel would probably prefer that everyone buys an Ultrabook or four. But, according to Stice, the goal of Intel's Ultrabook push is to re-invent the PC in order to bring to consumers the type of features and functionality—like touchscreen—that is currently the domain of non-traditional types of computers like smartphones and tablets.
If ultrathins take off and Ultrabooks flame out, the mission is still accomplished.
"I give Intel a lot of credit for what they are trying to do," Stice said. "They realize that the standard cookie-cutter type of a notebook that we've seen for the past decade was falling short of being competitive with all of these new ultra-mobile gadgets."
Of course, the real challenge for Ultrabooks, no matter how they are categorized, is competing with those ultra-mobile gadgets. Today's consumer seems very willing to part with a few hundred dollars for a smartphone or tablet in exchange for the functionality they provide. They also seem comfortable paying a few hundred dollars for the type of cookie-cutter notebook ubiquitous today.
Whether consumers on a large scale will prove willing to pay significantly more for something that melds the mobile experience with something more akin to that of a traditional PC is another matter. Particularly if that significantly more stays around $1,000.
"The challenge is creating ultra-competitive new computing gadgets in a price range that seems to be more attractive today's consumer," Stice said.