SAN FRANCISCO—Ultrabook sales are falling short of expectations amid high pricing and lack of effective marketing, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli, which cut its forecast for 2012 sales of the ultra-thin, low-power notebook PCs.
IHS (El Segundo, Calif.) estimates that 10.3 million Ultrabooks will ship this year, down from a previous forecast of 22 million. More than half of 2012 shipments are expected to occur in the fourth quarter, IHS said.
Ultrabooks—high-end, low-power notebook PCs—have failed to achieve widespread popularity largely because of their price, which often hovers around $1,000. To achieve the speed and performance gains specified, Ultrabooks employ solid state drives, which remain far more costly than traditional hard drives.
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The reduced forecast for Ultrabook sales is a blow to Intel Corp., which conceived of the Ultrabook concept and has pumped millions into marketing the PCs. In April, Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini predicted that Ultrabooks would soon hit "mainstream" price points as low as $699. But even that price point may be too high for widespread adoption amid a flood of other promising mobile computing devices like media tablets.
Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS, said in statement that the PC industry has failed to create the kind of buzz and excitement needed to propel ultrabooks into the mainstream.
"There once was a time when everyone knew the 'Dude you're getting a Dell' slogan. Nowadays no one can remember a tag line for a new PC product, including for any single ultrabook," Stice said.
IHS also reduced its forecast for 2013 Ultrabook shipments. The firm now expects shipments to rise to 44 million next year—more than quadruple the 2012 forecast, but down from an earlier forecast of 61 million.
Instead of an Ultrabook I use an iPad along with the Logitech Ultrathin keyboard. I get light weight, portability, detachable tablet, 10 hours on a single battery charge, lots of apps. What I miss are separate user accounts and a mouse.
The article has it right -- high price, lousy, opportunistic marketing, and lack of touch screens are big holes in the plan. Yes, SSD prices which are now from $400 to $500 for a needed 512 Gb device are a big culprit, but pretty soon the gazillion HDD parts vs. the handfull in the SDD's are going to show up in cratering prices.
The MacBook Air cleverly set the bar that thinner was going to cost you more and if you think that just because there is less stuff to buy, build and ship in an Ultrabook marketing types are going to forgo extra profit just for volume, you're pretending they have a soul. Pretty soon somebody is going to do a Prius to the market and price as if they were going to sell a gazillion and leave the rest of the folks looking like Chevy Volts at twice the price, half the performance and sales in the dozens.
I've got a 2.4 pound Toshiba that cost $699 -- OK performance, OK screen, but amazing to take anywhere. Now if it just had touchscreen, I'd crank in Windows 8 tomorrow.
I am not surprised.
If WinTel want to beat Apple by making a Macbook Air Clone, the first thing they should consider doing is to substantially reduce the price compared to Air. I would buy an ultrabook with similar specs that of an Air at 60% of air's price.
I believe it was Santayana who said "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it."
Some here may recall the UMPC, which was a joint venture between Intel and Microsoft, based around Microsoft's Origami effort.
Both had problems - how to maintain growth and market share. The answer they came up with was a whole new platform that would use Intel chips and run Windows. It was noteworthy that the UMPC was produced by vendors like Samsung and VIA Technologies, who weren't known for complete systems, and was *not* made by laptop manufacturers like Dell and Fujitsu. The specs also seemed crafted to keep them from *competing* with laptops.
What neither Intel nor MS provided was a compelling use case for why people might get a UMPC in *addition* to what they already had, and mostly, people didn't.
The tablet essentially does what the UMPC was suggested for, but at a much better price point and with better ease of use.
The Ultrabook looks like it's intended to compete against devices in the netbook category, spawned by the ASUS eee, aimed at the higher end.
Again, where's the compelling use case? What makes one of the Ultrabooks worth $1,000 to a buyer?
Whether the Ultrabook sales are all that bad depends upon what sort of numbers Intel expected. I don't think they thought it would be an out-of-the-park home run.