Intel working hard to keep Ultrabook pricing lower than $1,000

Summary:Despite Intel's lofty claims that its new Ultrabook platform of super-slim laptops would account for 40 percent of the notebook market by the end of the next year, it's been dogged by some issues as manufacturers work to get the first Ultrabooks out the door. The most notable one is the price tag, and the chip giant is stepping up efforts to show that the laptops don't need to cost more than $1,000.

Despite Intel's lofty claims that its new Ultrabook platform of super-slim laptops would account for 40 percent of the notebook market by the end of the next year, it's been dogged by some issues as manufacturers work to get the first Ultrabooks out the door. The most notable one is the price tag, and the chip giant is stepping up efforts to show that the laptops don't need to cost more than $1,000.

That price point is important for a number of reasons, not least of which is that the cheapest MacBook Air costs $999. There have been rumored complaints by laptop manufacturers that given the cost of materials, Ultrabooks would cost more than $1,000 out of the gate. But according to DigiTimes, Intel has provided those vendors a bill of materials for two different Ultrabook flavors, showing that component costs can range from $475 to $650 for 21mm Ultrabooks and $493 to $710 for 18mm flavors. The company is also planning to meet with manufacturers to work on controlling costs to keep the price under a grand -- though those same manufacturers have griped that Intel's pricing of its own parts is a big reason for the high projected costs.

Ultrabooks have hit one other snag, perhaps thanks to Apple itself. Vendors are facing a shortage of the magnesium-aluminum chassis that Intel wants used for Ultrabooks, which is leading them to consider using fiberglass chassis instead. Apple has most likely gobbled up all those chassis for itself,as the two major suppliers of the metal chassis are also suppliers to Apple. The one good thing about using fiberglass rather than metal: the Ultrabooks may cost about $20 cheaper.

While major manufacturers like Asus and HP appear onboard with Ultrabook production, at least one other vendor is skeptical of the platform: Acer's founder, Stan Shih, has dubbed the new laptops a "fad." If Intel and its partners can keep them priced below the MacBook Air that might not be the case, but there's plenty of skepticism floating around about whether Ultrabooks will be the future of notebooks or not.

Topics: Intel, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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