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Intel Portables Businesses Hardware Technology

Why Ultrabooks Are Falling Well Short of Intel's Targets 513

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-leveraging-enough-synergies dept.
nk497 writes "When Paul Otellini announced Ultrabooks last year, he predicted they would grab 40% of the laptop market by this year. One analyst firm has said Ultrabooks will only make up 5% of the market this year, slashing its own sales predictions from 22m this year to 10.3m. However, IHS iSuppli said that Ultrabooks have a chance at success if manufacturers get prices down between $600 to $700 — a discount of as much as $400 on the average selling price of the devices — and they could still grab a third of the laptop market by 2016."
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Why Ultrabooks Are Falling Well Short of Intel's Targets

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  • Funny that Apple sell so many retina MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs when they're the most expensive machines you can buy in those form factors. Could it be that a race to the bottom, cutting corners to reduce costs, ISN'T what people want? What happened with Netbooks again?

    • Price being a big one also. The Macbook Air sells well, but it's also an Apple machine, people expect to pay highly for it. The last notebook fad was the netbook, an inexpensive, but still fully functional laptop. Ultrabooks are high priced, and their one big feature is being light and thin. With tablets and smartphones (sadly) taking off, is most people going to shell out $800+ for something expensive like an ultrabook?
      • The other thing is grunt. People don't see the need.

        When I buy a device it is to do a range of tasks. I need a portable device to check Email, poke at websites, do some text editing, read books, play music, movies and the odd casual game. Nothing in this list is particularly arduous for most devices. In my static devices I will use them to Edit video, run multimedia libraries, typeset documents, and play more immersive games.

        An ultrabook has the CPU and graphics power to achieve the results for all my t

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:04PM (#41532629) Homepage

      Funny that Apple sell so many retina MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs when they're the most expensive machines you can buy in those form factors

      Nope. Not even close.

      When I was shopping for an ultrabook, I found the MacBook Air was quite competitively priced. I wasn't terribly impressed with the competition either -- the Samsung Series 7, for example, is not only more expensive for the same specs, but it's made of plastic!

      • ZenBook is your nearest competitor to the MacBook Air. It's worth going for the Air for its trackpad, ZenBook's is frustratingly inferior.

        MacBook Pro (and retina version) and the Mac Pro are competitive for the money too. iMacs are a steal, especially with their IPS screens.

        • You're talking about the first versions of the first gen of ZenBook. The later versions fixed the trackpad issue (and in fact, the new trackpad is arguably better than the airs). The second gens all have the improved trackpad.

      • by pnot (96038) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:16PM (#41533203)

        When I was shopping for an ultrabook, I found the MacBook Air was quite competitively priced. I wasn't terribly impressed with the competition either -- the Samsung Series 7, for example, is not only more expensive for the same specs, but it's made of plastic!

        Not that I'm an expert, but as far as I can tell from some brief Googling, the Samsung Series 7 is:

        1. Made of metal not plastic,
        2. Not an ultrabook,
        3. Cheaper than the Air.

        Specs appear generally better than the Air since it's a "full" laptop rather than ultrabook. More memory, more pixels, faster CPU, 1TB HDD vs 128GB SSD on Air, and of course thicker and heavier.

        I'm basing this largely on specs here [amazon.com] and here [amazon.com].

      • by LordLucless (582312) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:42PM (#41533847)

        I don't know how the Samsung Series 7 goes, but metal isn't always better. Apple makes their iPhones out of aluminium and glass because they're cool, sleek and sexy. My Nexus S is largely plastic, but is far, far more durable than my friends' iPhones. My phone once took a meter-long parabolic flight into tiles (damn dog). It's back came off and the battery popped out, but within 5 seconds it was as good as new. All but one of my iPhoner friends has had the screen replaced at least once from everyday knocks. One of them's gone through three.

        I like the nice, cold, heavy feel of an iPhone's premium construction materials as much as anyone, but premium's not always the same as practical.

      • When I was shopping for an ultrabook, I found the MacBook Air was quite competitively priced. I wasn't terribly impressed with the competition either -- the Samsung Series 7, for example, is not only more expensive for the same specs, but it's made of plastic!

        The Series 9 isn't bad. I've had the 2012 version with the Ivy Bridge for a few months now. Aluminum case, matte screen, good keyboard, long battery life, thin, light. It is on the pricier side, though, $1300 CAD when I bought it (though it did come wi

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Doctor_Jest (688315)
      I wouldn't say they "sell so many" MacBook Pros... Apple is, after all, about 12% of the market in PCs sold (and they have iMacs, Minis, etc.) They did enjoy a bump this year while everyone else declined... (not much of one, but a bump nonetheless.)

      http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/24/apple-reports-disappointing-mac-sales-despite-retina-macbook-release-4-million-units-sold-in-q3-2012/ [techcrunch.com]

      It seems everyone's facing a crunch. Apple's margins are so high, I doubt they notice. But, this brings up a question... wh
      • why is the decline in their Mac lineup continuing when it peaked a few years back? I don't know the answer to that.

        That's easy. Macs have useful lives longer than PCs do, and desktops/laptops are in decline while tablets and smartphones are on the rise (consumers buy new mobile devices much more frequently as well).
      • by smash (1351)
        Compare macbook pros sold to say, any other single PC laptop model.
    • by Nursie (632944)

      Could it be that a race to the bottom, cutting corners to reduce costs, ISN'T what people want? What happened with Netbooks again?

      Except isn't this article saying that they're too expensve and not selling?

      And what happened to netbooks is that they got more expensive and the specs stayed the same for multiple years. The manufacturers started adding bells and whistles and pushed the price up into the region of low end (but much more capable) laptops. Maybe they would have been a bigger success if they had foc

    • I really think that this might be part of it. Most people who want to buy a laptop go to a big electronics store. Those stores usually sell two types of computers. Crappy consumer laptops and Macs. The casing of the Macs is usually built from more expensive materials and manufactured to tighter tolerances giving them a higher quality feel. Sure they cost a lot more, and the user may not be able to do everything they want with it when they get it home, but the first impression in the store is what matte

    • Keep in mind Apple's lack of choice.

      Let's say you have $999 to spend on a MacBook. You have...oh...one choice: MacBook Air. That's it. You're getting an "Ultrabook," whether you want one or not, because that's the only thing Apple sells for $999. So if you wanted a laptop with more than two USB ports or a DVD drive, you'd better (a) spend more money or (b) suck it up.

      Let's say I have $799 to spend on a "laptop" at Dell. You have much more for choices. From full sized laptops with ethernet, more than 1

    • Funny that Apple sell so many retina MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs when they're the most expensive machines you can buy in those form factors. Could it be that a race to the bottom, cutting corners to reduce costs, ISN'T what people want? What happened with Netbooks again?

      If PC manufacturers are struggling to knock $4-500 off the price of an UltraBook to bring it into the $6-700 price range, I am having a hard time seeing how the MacBook Air is massively overpriced at $1,199.00. I'll only believe that PC manufacturers can produce something that rivals the MacBook Air, and that has a retail price-tag of $600, when I see it. I know it is fashionable these days to hate Apple but the MacBook Air is actually a quality machine and a feat of engineering. All of the UltraBooks I hav

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:05PM (#41533569) Journal
      You are complaining about high-priced Apple hardware. Apple hardware used to be expensive 10 years ago, when it was still manufactured in the US. In those days, everyone complained about the high price.

      Nowadays, Apple hardware is competitively priced, and people complain that it is made in China, and they would be willing to pay an extra X% if it were built in the US. In general, these people are naive, "Buy Made USA" campaigns have been a failure since the 80s. It doesn't motivate people to buy.
  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:03PM (#41532609)

    Lack of on-machine storage.

    Most early ultrabooks only had at best 128 GB of SSD memory, which is kind of cutting it close after you load Windows 7 and Office 2010. Why do you think Apple chose to include over 500 GB of SSD memory on some of their new MacBook Pro models?

    But now, with SSD technology rapidly improving, I'd say within 18 months you will see "convertible" touchscreen Ultrabooks running Windows 8 Professional with 512 to 1024 GB SSD storage standard with the latest super-efficient Intel "Core" CPU's, and those will definitely be vastly better-selling.

    • They'll be vastly better, but they won't be vastly better-selling.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      But now, with SSD technology rapidly improving, I'd say within 18 months you will see "convertible" touchscreen Ultrabooks running Windows 8 Professional with 512 to 1024 GB SSD storage standard with the latest super-efficient Intel "Core" CPU's, and those will definitely be vastly better-selling.

      Dont give up the day job mate, comedy is not your forte.

      Windows 8 is DOA, everyone hates it. Gamers wont use it, Businesses wont use it. The average user will hate it. Now if you had of said.

      But now, with SSD technology rapidly improving, I'd say within 18 months you will see Ultrabooks running Windows 7 Professional with 256 to 512 GB SSD storage standard with the latest super-efficient Intel "Core" CPU's, and those will definitely be vastly better-selling.

      It might be more believable.

      First off, to

  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:10PM (#41532677)

    I'm at the point that unless I get the same specs as apple for like half the price i will buy a Mac.

    All the crap pc makers lost my trust a long time ago

    I spent $1100 on a 13"Mbp last year and the closest pc counterpart was about $1000.

    • by anethema (99553) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:30PM (#41533753) Homepage

      I'm in the same boat somewhat. I keep trying to switch, and KEEP getting burned.

      Decided I want a big slunker gaming computer. Bought the Asus G73 when it came out. Was working fairly well but within about 8 months it was having some issues, trackpad, screen etc. No problem, I'm used to the Apple support, Asus has a good rep, lets call.

      What a disappointment. My only option was to send the laptop in so they could diagnose and repair it at their leisure. Reports online say it often takes a month. This is my primary and sole computer. I tried explaining that but nothing they could do. I offered to buy a nicer warranty, or buy the parts myself and replace them and agree my warranty would henceforth be void. Nope! Send it in.

      I sold it for a steep discount to a buddy and bought a mac.

      Know what Apple does in this situation? "No problem sir, your new computer is in the mail. Simply take a time machine backup, wipe it, place old computer in the box the new one came in, rip the shipping label off, drop it off for free shipping back to us, and restore the backup. Have a nice day."

      It seems you cannot even BUY that kind of warranty from most PC makers. Some even seem to try to find excuses not to fix your device. Apple has even replaced my phone after I broke the screen. They said they normally don't but just this once they would.

      They may have a terrible corporate attitude but they are hard to get away from since most other aspects of owning their products is so positive.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Well, last time I bought a PC (6 months ago) this was about the price factor : PCs of similar performances were half the price of the Apple product.

      If you want to recreate the experience of a nice overpriced computer in exchange of slick design while funding an unethical company, Sony should satisfy you. They are usually more expensive but a bit more relialable. And still well below the Apple price (in Japan at least)
  • A 256GB HD, 4GB RAM, and a low resolution display just doesn't cut it for brand new hardware these days. It's rare (and expensive!) to find Ultrabooks with better specs than this.

    Ultrabooks look nice - but if they're less powerful than my current hardware, why would I want to change?
  • by Guppy (12314) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:14PM (#41532709)

    Hey Charlie [slashdot.org], if you're on Slashdot, would you like to comment on your blistering excorication [semiaccurate.com] of Ultrabooks?

    • That was a great read... :) What's funny is I think MacBook Pro's are "shiny for the stupid"... but then again, I'm not their target demographic because I hate Starbuck's and don't wear hipster glasses. :)

      I think it has been said (elswhere in the discussion) that the stagnation (and Microsoftization) of netbooks caused their premature demise. I expect that people who want a MBP or Air already have enough cash to get one (or a CC with a high limit)... but for the vast majority of the population, they want
  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:21PM (#41532761) Homepage Journal

    There's a lot of netbook haters out there, and I understand why. Truth is they weren't the right thing for everyone.

    I found two great niches for them - children and physically active people on the go.

    First of all - children. The first netbook I every bought was one of the 7" eeePC's on that was on Woot.com with a 4GB card SSD. The SSD was so small the included OS couldn't even run its own updates out of the box. I put an ultra small version of Linux and SNES on it (came with a heftier Linux), stuck in a 32 GB SD card - instant portable movie and game machine for my daughter. A couple of years later I upgraded her to a 10" Acer similar to mine and my niece and nephew now have the 7" one. You can fit a lot of movies on a 32 GB SD card if you use the PSP or iPod preset in Handbrake.

    Second niche - myself. I bike places, as often as I can. I have a small backpack [target.com] that's big enough to carry my bike tools, a netbook, and some accessories/other crap I need for my commute to work or just about anywhere else. I BMX a lot and I don't like to carry a bunch of extra garbage I don't need. For coffee shop Internet use - including work responsibilities when I'm consulting - every thing I have to do on the road can be done on my 10" Acer Aspire. I've had two chain related failures on my BMXes while this thing was in my backpack, I wound up tumbling down the road both time my little Aspire took the beating better than I did. Sure a tablet fills this niche for most people, but I like a keyboard and mouse. That being said if Google does come out with a Nexus 10 I'll probably get that and use my old mini Apple bluetooth keyboard on it.

    I drool over Ultrabooks - I really want one. Fact is they cost too damned much and they won't fit my physically active lifestyle - I would have to switch to a bigger backpack for more than about a 12" screen, maybe a bit bigger but I don't want to push it too much. Intel's greed - not the kind that motivated them to release Ultrabooks but the kind that made them strong arm manufactures into killing netbooks to do it - is a large part of why they aren't taking off well enough.

    If they stopped their excessive manipulation and gave control back to the manufacturers they may see a surge in Ultrabook sales.

  • sure its not as slim or as light, it doesnt have as much battery life, but shit, its cost 40 bucks on ebay, why would I want to spend a pile of money on a obsolete computer no matter how sexy it was?

    Seriously? 900 bucks for a 13 inch dell ultrabook? I got a 15.6 inch 2.5ghz i5 with twice the ram and a TB hard drive for 499$ at the dell refurb outlet for my mediocre work computer, and it has one scratch across the windows sticker on the bottom.

    • by Kittenman (971447)

      Seriously? 900 bucks for a 13 inch dell ultrabook? I got a 15.6 inch 2.5ghz i5 with twice the ram and a TB hard drive for 499$ at the dell refurb outlet for my mediocre work computer, and it has one scratch across the windows sticker on the bottom.

      Check that scratch carefully - it doesn't say 'Void' does it? :)

    • Fine if you're happy to lug 15.6" around with you. Me, I need my laptop accessible on my desk, the airline lounge and my airplane seat. And the kilos matter.

    • by fafaforza (248976) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:11PM (#41533137)

      > sure its not as slim or as light

      Well, umm, there you go. Small and light costs money. This has been the case for the past 15 years with laptops.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      sure its not as slim or as light, it doesnt have as much battery life, but shit, its cost 40 bucks on ebay, why would I want to spend a pile of money on a obsolete computer no matter how sexy it was?

      Seriously? 900 bucks for a 13 inch dell ultrabook? I got a 15.6 inch 2.5ghz i5 with twice the ram and a TB hard drive for 499$ at the dell refurb outlet for my mediocre work computer, and it has one scratch across the windows sticker on the bottom.

      This.

      Ultrabooks are not for everyone. Most people will buy a NEW i5 with a 500 GB spinning HDD for US$500 ish from their local box retailer.

      Only people looking for something specific will look outside this range. To elaborate I bought an laptop for traveling last year, because I'd be doing some gaming on it what I needed was a laptop that was light, had a powerful GFX, good battery life, DVD drive and a 14" screen. I ended up with a 14" Asus, 8GB RAM, Hybrid Nvidia 640M/Intel GMA. Using the intel GFX I

  • I had to get a laptop a couple of months ago when ultrabooks were getting all the attention (I was replacing my 13 inch laptop). For about $400 got a very nice Lenovo 14-inch laptop with Intel i5 and a DVD ROM. I really wanted a computer to be slimmer and didn't want a DVD drive, but couldn't find it unless I would go with some ultrabook which I seriously considered.

    The ultrabooks had:
    * Less processing power. In fact, there was no ultrabook at the time to match the power of the mobile i5 processor in
  • by pesho (843750) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:32PM (#41533761)

    As somebody who was just in the market for an ultrabook and ended up running away, let me tell you why the ultrabooks don't sell. The ultrabooks best but narrow market are people who are willing to pay a premium for a combination of good performance, light weight and long battery life. PC manufacturers want to sell a lot of ultrabooks, so they compromise an all three points and as a result loose in competition with their other offerings. Netbooks and tablets offer comparable or even better battery life for 3-4 times less money. Regular laptops offer significantly better performance for 30 to 50% less.

    I was looking for a ultrabook with 8GB RAM, 256SSD and no dedicated video card (the onboard intel 4000 chips are perfectly fine) for about $1600. How hard could it be? RAM is so cheap that shipping costs more than the chip and SSD prices have come down to a buck per GB.

    After couple of months of trying I gave up, bought myself a Lenovo X230, swapped the hard drive with 512GB SSD and brought the RAM to 16GB. The bill came to more that $1600 but I am happy with the result. I would have paid more if a PC maker would have bothered to offer a comparable system.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @01:25AM (#41534769) Homepage
    Here's the problem: "Ultrabooks first landed last year, as part of a $300m marketing campaign by Intel to ... push up margins for PC makers..." Intel doesn't have the power to determine prices any more. Intel and the old-line PC makers are desperately trying to stem the inevitable price decline. They're failing.

    Ordinary "netbooks" like the EeePC 1000 [centralcomputers.com] are quite competent computers for $275. How much computer do you need to carry around? I run Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, LTSpice and Autodesk 123D on mine. It will play video. What more do you need?

  • by sootman (158191) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @10:14AM (#41537827) Homepage Journal

    It's almost as if there's more to good design than meets the eye... as if Apple actually did some hard work before they introduced the MacBook Air four years ago, rather than just looking at a competitor's product and saying "Thin, silver, wedge-shaped... yeah, we can do that!" and popping out some piece of shit a few months later. And careful, strategic supply-chain planning and management doesn't enter into it at all.

    Nah... Apple's success is just due to a) marketing and b) legions of fanbois and style-obsessed sheeple. Yeah. Just keep telling yourself that.

    Remember when you were a kid and watched people who were good at stuff and it looked easy? And a grown-up told you "they're really good at it and they make it look easy"? Nope--all lies. If something looks easy, it is, and if they're successful, they're just lucky. No skill is needed at all to become a great artist, designer, surgeon, stunt cyclist, manager, president, juggler, programmer...

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