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Research Firm Thrashes Ultrabook Prices and Marketing

However, market researchers believe that Ultrabooks will fall short of their opportunity, largely due to the fact that prices remain high and marketing has failed to create interest in the category.

IHS now expects only 10.3 million Ultrabooks will be shipped in 2012, down from a previous forecast of 22 million units. The 2013 forecast was also cut from 61 million to 44 million units. To succeed, IHS said that Ultrabooks need to become available in the $600 price range and drop down from their current lofty $1,000 neighborhood. For 2013, the market research firm says that a $600 touchscreen Ultrabook with Windows 8 will be a requirement. If prices remain high, sales "will continue to struggle".

“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,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS.

While there has been consistent news from Intel as well as system vendors that prices will come down, Ultrabook retail prices are relatively stable at around $1,000 today. What we are seeing is a blame game, in which one side accuses the other of greed and a complaint of lack of innovation goes in the other - while the industry is attempting to maintain a positive tone prior to the launch of Windows 8. However, there is mounting criticism that is zeroing on marketing as well as Intel's tight grip on the Ultrabook definition.

"Another factor causing IHS to reduce the forecast is Intel’s increasingly stringent set of definitions for ultrabooks," the market research firm said. "Based on these designations, many notebooks once called ultrabooks now are being classified as ultrathins."

On the vendor side, IHS argues that there is simply no differentiation among Ultrabooks, which is met by a lack of marketing that has not created interest in the category among consumers. The firm went as far as describing current marketing campaigns as "nebulous".

“So far, the PC industry has failed to create the kind of buzz and excitement among consumers that is required to propel ultrabooks into the mainstream," Stice said. "This is especially a problem amid all the hype surrounding media tablets and smartphones. When combined with other factors, including prohibitively high pricing, this means that ultrabook sales will not meet expectations in 2012."

Still, IHS believes the opportunity is there. The firm projects 95 million Ultrabooks to be sold in 2016.

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  • A Bad Day
    And meanwhile, Apple's ever loyal customers are more than happy to spend significantly over $1000 for non-repairable, non-upgradable lappies...
    Reply
  • A Bad Day
    EDIT: And what about the Ultrathins? I wonder how will they perform on the market?
    Reply
  • nforce4max
    If they can shrink them down to 11 and 13 inch models they could turn them out in the $300-$600 range which would replace the netops that occupy that price range.
    Reply
  • vision33r
    People pay high prices for Apple stuff because they know if something goes wrong they can bring it to the Apple store. None of the cheap copycat crap that Dell and HP put out will make any money and not selling.
    Reply
  • husker
    “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,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS.
    Really? Someone is going to decide to buy an iPhone 5 to write their research paper, or create those spreadsheets vital to the marketing department at work?
    Reply
  • dalethepcman
    Here is the problem with Ultrabooks.

    Toshiba / Intel laptop. $349
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834214599

    3rd Gen iPad 16GB $510
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16858753079

    -or-

    Cheapest ASUS ultrabook $780
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834230466

    That's the lowest price ultrabook model available. If they can make a 15" laptop and sell it for $350-$1000, then how come a 13" laptop costs $800-$2000?
    Reply
  • joytech22
    Acer has been doing a damn good job at keeping prices low for Ultrabooks.
    You can snag one for $600 AUSD (Which is pretty good).

    Not sure why Ultrabooks are a better choice over laptops though..
    Scored a 15" Acer/w i7 3610QM, GT640M and 4GB of RAM for $1000.

    A comparable ultrabook for that price is more like a 3rd gen i5/w HD4000 graphics and 4GB of RAM with a bad screen.
    Reply
  • Yes and Intel has made thunderbolt so $$$ for laptop OEM's that most windows laptops still do not offer thunderbolt ports! How many ultrabooks come standard with Thunderbolt ports? Several companies are about to begin offering PCIe docks for more powerful extrenal GPUs to be used with a laptop, but they will require thunderbolt ports! Apple has not had exclusivity for Thunderbolt for how long now?
    Reply
  • "If they can shrink them down to 11 and 13 inch models they could turn them out in the $300-$600 range which would replace the netops that occupy that price range."

    It's not the size of the screen that's affecting the price so much, it's the solid state hard drives they have (which is why they're so thin). The technology is still pretty nascent, and they have tiny capacity compared with traditional hard-disks.
    Reply
  • Lots of dumb comments today. Ultrabooks are expensive because they are compact AND powerful. They take sophisticated hardware to run them. It's not just the CPU either. Most of these have anywhere from 13" to 15" ultra thin screens. By definition, they must have a hybrid or SSD drive. Those drives are still expensive. They must be extremely light and tend to have expensive batteries (just due to the form factor). These aren't just ordinary laptops due to the constaints. The problem is, they haven't figured out how to market these additions as necessary. Why should someone pay nearly 1k for an ultrabook when an equally powerful notebook wll sell for $799? Well, that notebook is heavier, will not last as long on battery, may not have the touch interface, and likely doesn't have an SSD for better hard drive performance. They are not selling these facts hard enough.

    As for Thunderbolt, I dont think Intel is making it that expensive. Intel has several variants and one of which is fairly inexpensive. The problem is when the entire system goes for $1k, adding a $30 adapter that has very few available products out for it is probably not a great selling point. Apple creates an entire echosystem so they can do Thunderbolt. The PC world is shared amongst each other though and 1 system costing even a few dollars more than another for some Thunderbolt interface few people believe they need is not a strong selling point. $$$ isn't the entire problem. Intel needs to convince companies to build more Thunderbolt devices an make it an exciting option so vendors can differentiate their products by offering Thunderbolt.

    Reply