Looks as though Intel's Ultrabook form factor is catching on with consumers, as NPD Group reports that sales are off to a fast start, capturing nearly 11-percent of all $700+ Windows notebooks sales at U.S. retail through the first five months of 2012.
According to the report, the overall Windows market for notebook PC sales fell by 17-percent. However, Ultrabooks helped propel the premium market with Windows notebooks priced over $700 by just 3-percent. Those priced over $900 actually increased 39-percent compared to the same timeframe last year.
"Ultrabooks have helped establish a market for more premium-priced Windows notebooks at retail," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group. "The share of sales that the $700+ notebook segment represents jumped from about 12 percent in 2011 to nearly 14 percent in 2012 as a result of the solid market acceptance Ultrabooks have gained. Consumers continue to respond positively to finally being offered stylish, thinner, and more premium device offerings than ever before within the Windows ecosystem."
Strong sales in the Ultrabook sector may be a sign that consumers are willing to spend more money on a premium product. NPD points out that selling prices have averaged $927 over the first five months of 2012, and only dipped below $900, to $885, for the first time in May. This is obviously way above the Windows market price of $510 average pricing -- an average which has only risen by $13 since the same period in 2011, partially due to the growth in Ultrabook sales.
Baker said that lower-cost Ultrabooks, some as low as $699, will be the hot form factor as the crucial back-to-school selling season approaches.
"As we look towards the fourth quarter, the expected launch of Windows 8, a wide variety of Ultrabooks with touch screens, and convertible form factors should continue to make this class of product top of mind with the consumer as well as provide a much needed revenue boost to the entire PC ecosystem," he said.