Ultrabooks, Ultrabooks, Ultrabooks! If you think you’re hearing an awful lot about the portable, powerful laptops now, be prepared to be flooded in Ultrabook news next year. According to a key director behind the annual Consumer Electronics Show, as many as half a hundred Ultrabooks could break cover at CES 2012. In fact, it's starting to sound like CES 2012's slogan could be "Smaller is better."
Global Ultrabook shipments are expected to soar over the next several years, going from less than 1 million units in 2011 to 136.5 million units in 2015, market research firm IHS iSuppli says. The firm believes this "massive level of growth will have major repercussions for the global electronics supply chain" and will shake up various semiconductor markets, in particular having a positive impact for sensors and power and analog semiconductors, but will reduce demand for upgrade memory modules.
Intel's Ultrabook concept is slow getting off its feet. Pricing is mostly to blame, and a big part of why Ultrabooks are so comparatively expensive is because the CPUs are pricey. Maybe Intel's Haswell architecture will change that. At the very least, Haswell, which is Intel's catch-all codename for both its mobile and desktop Shark Bay platform (the successor to Ivy Bridge) is a brand new core ("tock," as Intel calls it), and the version for Ultrabooks will be fairly close to a System-on-Chip (SoC) design.
Asus and Acer, the same two companies largely responsible for the success of the netbook form factor and, by association, Intel's Atom platform, are having a hard time selling Intel's Ultrabook concept to the masses. To wit, both companies recently reduced their Ultrabook orders by as much as 40 percent simply because initial sales numbers weren't looking all that hot.
Despite Ultrabooks’ lackluster debut, some analysts remain confident of a spectacular turnaround. Perhaps the upcoming Toshiba Portege Z835 Ultrabook will spark the massive change in fortune that is needed if Ultrabooks are to conquer a sizable portion of the portable PC market. The Portege Z835, which is Toshiba’s first Ultrabook, is all set to make its U.S. debut as a Best Buy exclusive.
Ultrabooks may be the thin, attractive and powerful MacBook Air alternatives Intel and its manufacturer buddies hoped they would be, but as comparable as they are to Apple’s ultraportable laptop, they haven’t exactly been flying off the shelves. As we reported on Halloween, Acer and Asus are both reporting Ultrabook sales well under initial expectations. But wait! Don’t write off the Ultrabook just yet – one analytical firm thinks Ultrabooks will account for nearly half of all laptop sales by 2015.
Intel came up with the Ultrabook category in hopes of blowing Apple's MacBook Air out of the water. Ultrabooks are supposed to be thin and light. They're intended to be powerful and well equipped with features. And they must be aesthetically pleasing, or at least that's Intel's vision for the Ultrabook category. And so far, Ultrabooks are all of these things, so why aren't they selling?
So, it’s official: HP is staying in the PC game. Way to make the right choice, Meg Whitman! But even though the company has decided to stick to the status quo and keep offering hardware for the masses, the masses are a little confused HP’s recent “WTF?” business maneuvering. Whitman’s well aware of the confusion the flip-flopping has caused. So how is HP going to win back the hearts and minds of customers? Maybe with a kick-ass Ultrabook. A company VP confirmed that one of the diminutive powerhouses is on HP’s radar sometime down the line.
Hewlett Packard went bonkers there for a short while and actually considered selling or spinning off its Personal Systems Group (PSG) so it could focus on servers, printers, and software. Fortunately for HP, newly appointed CEO Meg Whitman quickly reversed course on what could have been a disastrous heading for the world's No. 1 PC maker, So now what?
The idea of flooding the market with affordable ultra-thin and -light notebooks dubbed ultrabooks is undoubtedly Intel’s brainchild. The world’s leading chip maker has even set up a $300 million fund to impart some initial impetus to the whole concept. Given its efforts, it has to be said that Intel deserves first dibs on ultrabooks. However, AMD is unlikely to watch from the sidelines for too long.