For as firmly as Intel
appears to believe in its ultrabook
form factor, the same apparently can’t be said for the buying public. Although ultrabooks do offer plenty of tantalizing features for consumers looking for power, performance, and portability in the same package, the things just cost too much right now.
At least that’s the purview of market research firm IHS iSuppli, which has slashed sales expectations for ultrabooks this year from 22 million units down to 10.3 million. In 2013, the prospects look better--the firm believes that the number of ultrabook sold will more than quadruple to 44 million--but that’s still far short of previous expectations, which had that number pegged at 61 million.
In addition to high prices, IHS iSuppli doesn’t see the kind of buzz about ultrabooks that PC makers were surely hoping for. “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,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS.
The firm believes that these problems are not insurmountable, however, and that a price point closer to $600 (which is looking increasingly like a reality) coupled with the Windows 8 operating system and additional features that will make consumers drool--such as touchscreen capabilities, removable screens for tablet-like usability, Intel’s upcoming Haswell processor, multiple display support, hand-gesture recognition, and GPS functionality--will contribute to much better sales numbers.
Regardless, IHS iSuppli figures to see ultrabook sales push up to 95 million shipments by 2016, which isn’t terrible, although it may still not be ideal. There’s a lot of tough sledding ahead for any PC form factor, however, as the competition from tablets and smartphones continues to stiffen.