$599 ultrabooks by the holiday season is too little, too late

$599 ultrabooks by the holiday season is too little, too late

Summary: The PC industry is essentially stagnant, and tinkering with existing form factors – which is what the Ultrabook essentially is – won't help that much.

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In an attempt to improve adoption rates, Intel is looking to push down the starting price of Ultrabook systems to $599 by the holiday season. While this will undoubtedly be nice for those looking for a bargain, it is unlikely to be enough to reinvigorate interest in the platform.

Speaking at last week's Intel Solutions Summit (ISS) 2013 in Los Angeles, Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, announced the price cut to an audience of top OEMs.

Skaugen also said that the early Ultrabooks were "just a retrofit of what was already in the market," and that new Haswell-based models would bring a whole raft of new features to the table, including touchscreens, faster drives, and all-day batteries.

But the problem is that this is too little, too late. Despite Windows 8 getting off to a good start, with Microsoft selling 60 million licenses by the beginning of January, it seems that most of these were sold to hardware OEMs and are sitting on shelves waiting for customers to buy new PCs. And in the meantime, people are discovering Android and iOS tablets, and that they don't need a full operating system to do the things they want to get done.

See alsoA $99 Kindle Fire would annihilate the Android tablet competition

Another factor placing a headwind on Ultrabooks is the aggressive product upgrade cycle from the likes of Apple and Samsung. These companies are building on the success of previous generations of hardware by releasing better models on a regular basis. Also, as more people get locked into the iOS or Android ecosystem, they're less likely to want to take a chance with a different platform, even if that platform is Windows, one that is familiar to most computer users.

The holiday season is a long way away, and by then there will be a new iPad and iPhone, along with a slew of Android-powered devices, all tempting the money out of consumer's pockets.

The PC market is stagnating, and tinkering with existing form factors — which is what the Ultrabook essentially is — won't help that much. The era of the PC is waning, and replacing it is the post-PC era, one dominated by low-power, low-cost, easy-to-use devices.

The tide is turning and Ultrabooks isn't going to stop it from happening.

Topics: Intel, Hardware, Windows 8

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33 comments
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  • If only Microsoft would listen

    Too bad Microsoft refuses to make an OS that is more appropriate for post-pc devices instead of sticking with the same old desktop that long-time Windows fanboys like SJVN really want Microsoft to stick with. It's almost like SJVN wants Microsoft to make a mistake here and go bankrupt.

    Nah.
    toddbottom3
    • Totally agree, but...

      It's been well documented that the average purchase price is still below $599...by nearly $200. Given the tough times, I think many will still want even cheaper. Would you buy a new laptop you probably don't need from a spec stand point? Obviously tech fans will say yes, but the extreme majority aren't techies.
      ikissfutebol
    • Microsoft is THE desktop OS company.

      'Nuff said.
      Champ_Kind
    • Haha do you ever quit?

      I see your icon everywhere on zdnet it seems. Not bashing you or anything, but whenever I scroll down to a Znet comment section I see your avatar so I had to ask.
      Aliephe
  • The PC is dead

    Because everyone knows that websites like this one are hosted on iPads.
    /s
    Azzras
    • Website hosting

      Last time I checked, websites were hosting on servers, running some UNIX variant.

      By the way, if you so desire, you can host an website on an iPad. It has way more powerful CPU and fast storage than many of the servers years ago, runs certified UNIX OS and the Apache web server is available for it, together will all UNIX tools.

      You will just have to keep it powered on all the time, so that others could access your web site.
      danbi
      • danbi is right on this one

        In fact, this is one of the band aids that ios app makers have had to implement to get around the severe limitations of a crippled OS. Several apps I've used in the past allowed you to wirelessly upload and download files by starting up a web server and asking you to navigate to it from your PC. It is a pain and the UI is horrible and the ones I've seen only let you work with 1 file at a time but it is technically running a web server on your ipad.

        Of course, such workarounds are not required on better post-pc devices like the Surface and many excellent Android Tablets but when you buy a lousy device like the ipad, you take whatever onerous work arounds and band aids you are forced to take if, unlike me, you can't afford to dump your ipad and get something better.
        toddbottom3
      • Re: you can host an website on an iPad

        Apple won't allow that. And you can't do it on Windows Phone/RT either. It would only be possible on Android.
        ldo17
  • You call this "getting off to a good start"?

    "Despite Windows 8 getting off to a good start, with Microsoft selling 60 million licenses by the beginning of January, it seems that most of these were sold to hardware OEMs and are sitting on shelves waiting for customers to buy new PCs."
    ac1234555
    • Yes, it IS a GOOD start!

      for MS. Those licenses have been sold and MS has pocketed the money for them. Now it's up to the manufacturers to figure a way to attract customers (new & old) to sell computers that include those licenses.
      Charles_B
  • Yeah, but then there's the rest of us!

    The new form factors are most frequently used as toys for games and videos. There are still a lot of us that work on PC's, and Ultrabooks are still a very good form factor. I think there is a market.
    randygrenier
    • the rest of us!

      Why would you want to pay $600 for a full-fledged laptop when you can get a Surface Pro for $1000?
      radu.m
  • $599 ultrabooks by the holiday season is too little, too late

    "it seems that most of these were sold to hardware OEMs and are sitting on shelves waiting for customers to buy new PCs. "
    Any proof to back up this claim? From what I'm seeing its more Microsoft Windows 8 devices out there.

    "And in the meantime, people are discovering Android and iOS tablets, and that they don't need a full operating system to do the things they want to get done."
    Wrong again. Its very rare for me to see a tablet anywhere now. The tablet fad has come and gone. People do what the full OS to do what they need to.
    Loverock-Davidson
    • Ask for a raise L-D

      if you are gonna spread such bald-faced ones, they have to pay you more...
      "it is very rare for me to see a tablet anywhere now." where you been? hiding in a cave? I see more and more tablets popping up everywhere, even at work.

      I can only speak to what I am told.. but I service over 1000 people just at the facility I am at.. a lot more at the other factilities I service remotely. So far no one has ever said they liked the Windows 8 on the PC.. on a phone maybe.. a good number have even opted to retro the box to Windows 7. Might just be a So Cal, Texas, Ill., Calgary, Tijuana thing. Who can say, but maybe that is why the licenses bought by the OEMS are still sitting on the shelves, why so many of us are putting off buying new computers to see if, like Vista and Millenium, MS comes to their senses and realizes that a tablet OS is fine on a tablet, but most users don't want to turn their desktop PC into nothing more than another tablet.
      Putertechn
    • Re: Any proof to back up this claim?

      The fact that no more copies have shipped since then. Even Microsoft fanbois like yourself still keep quoting that same 60 million figure, two months on.
      ldo17
    • Tablets and smartphones

      will together overtake (expected) laptop sales, and tablet sales are growing a lot faster than smartphones sales.
      Tablets are far from fading away, and I doubt that will happen anytime soon - obviously the market will settle down. I wouldn't be surprise if tablets sales become close to pc sales in the following years.
      AleMartin
  • One small disagreement

    "These companies are building on the success of previous generations of hardware by releasing better models on a regular basis."

    It seems that hardware/features for tablets are hitting the plateau and entering into the commodity competition. Smartphones are heading the same way as well.

    Honestly what is the next iPad/Android tablet going to offer hardware wise that will cause people to ditch their last generation tablet that is working just fine? A few more pixels, ghz, GB of storage?

    The same thing that happened to PCs is going to happen to tablets and phones. $599 ultrabooks are not going to save PC sales, but I don't think people are going to keep blowing $599 every year to replaces last years tablet.

    $599 ultrabooks is a good start, but intel needs to help get intel powered tablets into better price ranges and battery life. That will provide a solid combination to take marketshare.
    Emacho
  • Wrong

    It strikes me that this will be a great time for this price point.

    A. Plenty of people currently have working equipment from a prior OS (including older iOS or Android devices, not to mention PCs running Windows 7).

    B. People shop around the Holidays.

    C. Windows "Blue" will be long since established by 4Q, resolving many of the whiny media's complaints about an already impressive rework of Windows.

    D. The Holidays will give Microsoft will a spectacular opportunity to think of ways to bundle new Xbox 720s, Windows Phones, and Ultrabooks/slates/tablets/convertibles running Windows "Blue."
    jayinatlanta
  • Hold your horses, folks

    Gimme' a break. I just grabbed an electronic brain with a Cyrix 486-DX-4 100 CPU and updated from Win 95 to Win 95B and it takes awhile to get the hang of all this new-fangled stuff.

    Tarnation ye younguns... what's the rush?

    Relax and enjoy life a little.

    Look beyond those self-imposed narrow parameters of screen staring!!!!

    Oh yeah.
    Disgruntled One
    • Latest and Outdatest

      Any more you can't even get to "Greatest" before the Latest is outdated. BFD, I say.
      cwallen19803@...