Intel has been working
with its OEM partners to ensure
that ultrabooks arrive below the Macbook Air's $999 price point, but DigiTimes reports that the company has drawn a line when it comes to CPU pricing. Faced with calls to cut the price of Ultrabook CPUs by 50 percent, Intel has instead given notice that it will offer 20 percent discounts to first-tier notebook vendors.
Grumpy OEMs (presumably the ones who don't qualify for discounts) have pointed out that Intel's high CPU prices are the major cost behind a number of products, including those based on Oak Trail (an Oak Trail platform costs an estimated $95, compared to ~$20 for Nvidia's Tegra 2). The comparison isn't a particularly good one, given that Oak Trail offers a very different set of capabilities than Tegra, but it illustrates part of the problem.
Ultra-desirable? Time will tell
Intel, needless to say, is unlikely to budge. The company's gross margin
is well above 60 percent and expected to stay in that range through the end of the year. It's much easier to lower prices than it is to raise them, and the company undoubtedly prefers to measure consumer response and perception of ultrabooks before it commits to cutting prices in a bid to boost demand.
When we covered ultrabooks earlier this month, we noted that their physical dimensions would require OEMs to solder some components that were normally socketed. This may be something of a mixed blessing
for connection manufacturers. On the one hand, Intel's 18-21mm design tolerance has required company's to develop ultra-thin (and higher priced) connectors. On the other, CPU sockets are one expected casualty of the manufacturing process. Companies like Foxconn, which manufacturers a large number of sockets, may find themselves on the losing end of this development.