If first you don't succeed, then spend more money. That seems to be the strategy Intel is taking to finally gain some traction with ultra-portable laptops. Outside the MacBook Air, these notebooks haven't been mainstream hits, and evidently Intel may have some concern about its forthcoming Ultrabook platform providing underwhelming sales as well.
How do we know? Laptop vendors have been telling DigiTimes that the chip giant is lavishing resources on securing top-tier support for Ultrabooks, which Intel hopes will comprise 40 percent of the consumer notebook market by the end of 2012. Considering the first Ultrabook, the Asus UX21, won't debut until September, that's a heady goal to achieve. And given that the pricing for Ultrabooks is expected to be in the $1,000 range, it may be impossible.
Throwing gobs of marketing money toward notebook makers isn't necessarily spurring them into frantic activity, however, as many tell DigiTimes they are still waiting to see how the UX21 sells before fully jumping on-board. For its part, Intel has recently released three Sandy Bridge dual-core processors designed for Ultrabooks -- the 1.7GHz Core i5-2557M, 1.7GHz Core i7-2637M and 1.8GHz Core i7-2677M -- and using just 17 watts of power. It also has a pair of new Celeron CPUs due in the upcoming months for the platform.
The Ultrabook pricing estimates are a potential sticking point, considering most buyers are looking to spend less than $1,000 on a laptop. And if they're planning on spending less but want the most portability, AMD's Zacate platform is major competition at around $500 for systems. Then there's the tablet PC phenomenon, which will continue to siphon off money that might have been spent on traditional laptops, including ultra-portables. (Witness the decline of the netbook.)
If Intel is indeed offering significant resources to induce laptop vendors to create Ultrabooks, does this mean the new platform is already in trouble? Are you planning to buy an Ultrabook when they become available? Let us know in the Comments section.