But IHS said the slow start by Ultrabooks can be overcome. The firm projects shipments to continue to grow for the foreseeable future, exceeding 95 million units by 2016. This will drive long-term growth for devices used in ultrabooks, including motion sensors, IHS said.
IHS said more Ultrabooks need to get below the $600 price range in order to hit the volume level needed to enter the mainstream. If Ultrabooks using the new Windows 8 operating system come close to the $600 to $700 range next year, while adding in an attractive new consumer feature such as touchscreen, chances for strong sales in 2013 are good. But if Ultrabooks stay at the $1,000 level, their sales will continue to struggle in 2013 amid competition from lower-priced options, such as tablets and smartphones, IHS said.
"With the economy languishing, Ultrabook sellers may have trouble finding buyers at the current pricing, especially with fierce competition from new mobile computing gadgets such as the iPhone 5, Kindle Fire HD and forthcoming Microsoft Surface," Stice said.
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Another factor cited by IHS for its Ultrabook forecast cut is the re-categorizing of many notebooks amid Intel's increasingly stringent set of definitions for Ultrabooks. Many notebooks once called ultrabooks now are being now classified as "ultrathins," the firm said.
Intel isn't giving up on Ultrabooks in 2012. But IHS noted that the chip giant is turning its attention to next year, saying at the recent Intel Developer Forum (IDF) that it believes everything will come together with the mid-2013 introduction of the company's new microprocessor, dubbed Haswell. Intel described 2013 as a once-in-a-decade opportunity for companies to reinvent the PC, with its new Haswell microprocessor catalyzing the ultrabook revolution.
Haswell, Intel's fourth-generation core microprocessor family, is expected to offer better performance with lower power consumption. Haswell will serve as the main core microprocessor for ultrabooks, IHS said. The microprocessor will provide Intel Identity Protection Technology to improve security and will also support multiple displays and high-definition 4K monitors with DisplayPort 1.2.
Beyond the ultrathin and ultralight form factor, Intel at IDF focused on new consumer-friendly features to enhance the attraction of ultrabooks, IHS said. The focus at several IDF briefings centered on touchscreen technology in Ultrabooks, in conjunction with the Windows 8 launch in October, IHS said. Intel claims 40 Ultrabook designs with touchscreens are in progress, the firm said.
Other prominent new features being incorporated into the next-generation ultrabooks are voice recognition; security features; multiple sensors including GPS, accelerometers and gyroscopes; and hand-gesture recognition, an attractive option for the gaming market, according to IHS.